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East L.A. hospital fined $50,000 for medication mix-up

Promises Hospital of East Los Angeles was fined $50,000 for a medication mix-up that caused a heart patient’s blood pressure to fall suddenly, requiring an emergency response, state regulators said.

The South Soto Street hospital was one of 12 hit with penalties announced Thursday by the California Department of Public Health. The fines ranged from $25,000 to $75,000.

The penalties are the result of inspections by the department. When a problem is noted, hospitals are required to take corrective actions to prevent similar problems in the future.

In Promises’ case, a reported medication error led to an April 2010 inspection. Inspectors found that a patient received 10 times the ordered dose of Cardizem, a drug used to treat an abnormal heart rhythm.

The error caused the patient’s heart rate to plummet so precipitously that a nurse was unable to obtain a blood pressure reading for nine minutes, according to the department report.

In a written response to the findings, the hospital said it initiated an immediate investigation and has taken steps, including training, to guard against a medication error recurrence.

It was the first such penalty assigned to Promises.

Other area hospitals penalized in actions announced Thursday are AHMC Anaheim Regional Medical Center in Anaheim, Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, Pomerado Hospital in Poway, Scripps Memorial hospitals in Encinitas and La Jolla, and Sharp Memorial in San Diego.

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-- Lisa Girion

 
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