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Ten California hospitals fined by the state for jeopardizing patient safety

Ronald Reagan UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) Medical Center is seen on Oct. 9, 2008 in Los Angeles.
David McNew/Getty Images
The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood. The UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital in Santa Monica was one of three southern California hospitals fined by the California Department of Public Health.

 The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Thursday announced $625,000 in fines against 10 California hospitals for mistakes that harmed or endangered patients, and in some cases led to their deaths.The incidents occurred from 2009 to 2011. Three of the hospitals are in southern California.

Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles was cited for the 2011 death of a patient who received three times the maximum dose of an anti-fungal medication, which caused the patient to suffer a cardiac arrest and die, according to the CDPH report posted on the department's website. The resulting $50,000 penalty is the first the state has  levied against the hospital, says the report. 

UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital in Santa Monica also received its first penalty from the state – a $50,000 fine for failure to remove a  sponge from a patient's abdomen after surgery.  The patient then had to undergo a second surgery to have the sponge removed.

In Ventura County, State officials fined Simi Valley Hospital & Health Care Services $50,000 for leaving a surgical clamp in a patient. That mistake resulted in a second surgery and the emergency removal of the patient's spleen.  The penalty marked the second one for the hospital.

State health officials say most of the fines they issue against hospitals are for failure to remove foreign objects from patients after surgery.

Also fined were three hospitals in San Diego County, two hospitals in San Francisco County, one hospital in Marin County and one hospital in Humboldt County. 

The hospitals have 10 days to appeal the fines, which are based in part on whether a hospital is a regional or metropolitan facility and on the number of penalties it has accrued from the state. The penalties range from $25,000  to $100,000.

The CDPH has assessed $11.9 million  in fines against 150 California hospitals since 2007 and has collected  $8.8 million, agency officials say.