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If nervous about the quality of your hospital, start with a data checkup

January 29, 2010 |  5:26 pm

Stethoscope Hospitals may seem like hold-your-life-in-their-hands entities, but ... oh, wait, they are. Still, that's not to say they're immune from punishment.

As staff writer Molly Hennessey-Fiske wrote in Thursday's Los Angeles Times: "State officials have fined 13 California hospitals for medical errors that in some cases killed or seriously injured patients, according to a report made public Wednesday. California Department of Public Health officials have required hospital officials -- who may appeal the fines -- to submit plans to correct the problems."

If you're keeping track of the Southern California hospitals, there are three in L.A. County, three in Orange County and one in Riverside County. Read more

And here's the full report.

It's fascinating stuff. Some quotes: "The hospital failed to ensure nursing staff competency and failed to follow the hospital’s policies and procedures for the on-going assessment and monitoring of patients." And: "This resulted in a patient having to undergo a second surgery to remove a retained foreign object."

If you're now wondering about the quality of your own hospital, can help you compare California facilities in various ways. The site, offered by the California HealthCare Foundation. won't tell you everything, but it's a place to start. 

The information includes ratings on how well hospitals follow safe medical practices -- and there's some advice about your rights. The latter largely comes down to contacting the ombudsman, employed by the hospital.

-- Tami Dennis