Eight Los Angeles County hospitals and three in Orange County have been fined by the California Department of Public Health after investigations found licensing violations that caused, or were likely to cause, serious injury or death to patients.
The fines range from $47,025 to $100,000.
St. Mary’s Medical Center in Long Beach was fined $50,000 after a patient walked out of the emergency room and died after jumping off the roof of the parking structure on July 24, 2013. The CDPH found that staff had not properly assessed the patient for suicide risk.
New procedures were implemented by the St. Mary’s staff to asses a patient’s “elopement” risk of leaving the emergency room, the report said.
“At Dignity Health – St. Mary Medical Center, the care and safety of our patients, visitors and employees are our highest priority,” said Julie Sprengel, acting president of St. Mary Medical Center. “We took this matter that occurred in 2013 very seriously by conducting a thorough investigation. Since then, we have worked closely with our medical staff, patient care staff and hospital leadership to continuously improve upon protocols and policies.”
In another case in 2012, a 17-year-old suicidal patient was left unattended by a nurse in a restroom and hung herself with the hose of a shower head at College Hospital in Cerritos, which specializes in psychiatric care. The patient died and the hospital was fined $50,000.
According the CDPH report, College Hospital devised a new policy where the hose would be stored outside of the restroom in a secure location when not in use.
College Hospital was also fined $75,000 for another incident where a patient admitted for being a danger to himself was left unattended in the shower and attempted to hang himself with an article of clothing.
The patient lived and College Hospital staff received education on the guidelines for limiting the number of clothing articles taken into the shower by patients, according to the report.
Valley Presbyterian was fined $50,000 after a patient received second- degree burns to the right ear and neck during a surgical fire in 2012, and St. Joseph Hospital in Orange was fined $66,000 after a patient received third- degree burns to the nasal cavity during a surgical fire in 2014.
St. Joseph had a minimum of 10 procedures per month for three months audited to ensure hospital staff were in compliance with the department’s prevention of surgical fires policy, according to the CDPH report, and surgical procedures at Valley Presbyterian were altered.
Valley Presbyterian, St. Joseph and College Hospital did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the fines.
Other hospital receiving fines were AHMC Anaheim Regional Medical Center ($47,025), Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park ($50,000), Keck Hopital of USC ($100,000), Los Angeles Community Hospital ($75,000), Pacifica Hospital of the Valley in Sun Valley ($75,000), South Coast Global Medical Center in Santa Ana ($50,000), Southern California Hospital at Hollywood ($50,000), and St. Joseph Hospital in Orange ($66,000).
–City News Service
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