Since 2007, the state of California has been penalizing inadequate hospital safety procedures by levying fines against offending institutions. In early June, a dozen hospitals around the state were slapped with fines by the California Department of Public Health for a range of dangerous behavior.
Patients Injured, Killed
All told, area hospitals were hit with $650,000 in administrative penalties. Under the Health and Safety Code provisions that took effect in 2009, a first violation carries a $50,000 penalty, a second $75,000, and any subsequent violations by the same hospital are penalized at $100,000 (incidents that took place before 2009 are fined at $25,000 and do not count in the total). Several of the recently-fined hospitals were already on their second violation since 2009.
Four hospitals were cited for failures that resulted in surgical instruments being left inside patients; affected patients were forced to undergo follow-up surgeries to remove the objects.
Improper medication administration was another common issue: five hospitals were fined for giving patients the wrong medication or improper dosages. In one instance, a nurse at Palomar Medical Center administered 33 times the proper dosage of analgesics (painkillers), causing a patient’s death.
Two hospitals did not follow monitoring policies for high-risk patients, leading to a death at each institution.
Finally, Anaheim Regional Medical Center was fined for accidently implanting a left-side stent in a patient suffering from a right-side kidney stone.
Remedies for Patients and Family Members
The fines issued by the state of California are meant to be administrative penalties; they in no way diminish the ability of patients to secure just compensation from the hospitals that caused their injuries.
In a legal claim for medical malpractice, if a patient can show some act or omission by caregivers amounted to negligence and caused harm, he or she can recover monetary damages. When a patient is killed by a medical provider’s error, his or her family members may recover for wrongful death.
Damages in a medical malpractice case can account for a variety of losses, including the costs of additional treatment, wages forgone due to injury, pain and suffering, and even disfigurement or scarring. Wrongful death claims may involve compensation for funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and the loss of your loved one’s companionship.
If you or a loved has been hurt by a California medical provider’s mistake, contact a Teal & Montgomery attorney today to explore your legal options.