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13 California hospitals fined for medical errors

January 27, 2010 | 11:17 am

The California Department of Public Health fined 13 hospitals this morning for medical errors that harmed or endangered patients.

Three hospitals in Los Angeles County were among those fined. Los Angeles Community Hospital in Norwalk was fined $50,000 in connection with the death of a patient in May who was supposed to be restrained and supervised but repeatedly pulled out his tracheostomy tube.

California Hospital Medical Center in downtown L.A. was fined $50,000 after emergency room doctors misdiagnosed a woman with an ectopic pregnancy in March and gave her chemotherapy drugs that made her ill.

Marina Del Rey Hospital was fined $25,000 after intensive care nurses failed to monitor a woman’s oxygen levels in March 2007, the patient passed out and had to be placed on a ventilator.

St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton was fined $50,000 in connection with the death of a patient in February. Investigators found nurses failed to monitor the man, who was being treated in the emergency room for a heart attack, and ensure that his heart monitor did not become disconnected.

At Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, investigators found staff mistakenly wheeled a patient on a metal gurney near an MRI machine, she was sucked in by the machine’s magnetic force and fractured her leg and foot. The hospital was fined $50,000, its third penalty in the last two years.

Western Medical Center in Santa Ana also was fined $50,000, the hospital’s second fine in the last year, after a surgical sponge was left in a patient in March. She became ill and had to undergo a second operation to remove it.

John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio was fined $25,000 each for four errors related to failing to monitor patients and medication.

All of the hospitals had to submit plans of correction to the state and must undergo follow-up inspections.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske