The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced Tuesday that Sutter Davis Hospital is being fined $25,000 for licensing violations that caused, or likely caused, a patient’s death.
Seven other California hospitals are being fined as well for various breaches of policy.
In March 2008, a patient died while undergoing a CT scan, for which Sutter Davis allegedly did not document informed consent and did not implement written policies and procedures. The hospital also allegedly administered an iodine dosage to the patient, who had a known iodine allergy.
According to the report, “Based on staff interviews, medical record and document reviews, the hospital failed to ensure that a properly executed informed consent was obtained and documented for patients undergoing high risk radiographic procedures that utilized the administration of contrast material, in accordance with medical staff policies.”
The other seven hospitals being fined include California Pacific Medical Center, Pacific Campus Hospital in San Francisco, Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Fontana (two penalties), Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, Southwest Healthcare System in Murrieta (three penalties), St. Bernardine Medical Center in San Bernardino and St. Joseph Hospital in Orange.
“This is the 10th time that CDPH has issued fines to hospitals since Jan.1, 2007,” said Ralph Montano, spokesperson for CDPH. “Since then, CDPH has issued a total of 146 administrative penalties to 96 California hospitals.”
Penalties for these hospitals range from $25,000 to $100,000; incidents that occurred after Jan. 1, 2009 carry a greater fine as a result of the passage of Senate Bill 541, which more than doubled administrative penalties. Montano explained that fines to hospitals in California are relatively rare, however.
“The state of California has more than 560 hospitals (General Acute Care Hospitals and Acute Psychiatric Hospitals),” he said. “When you think of how many patients are seen at these facilities every day, you can see that the fines are infrequent.”
CDPH also employs other methods to ensure hospital safety and monitor adherence to policies, including extensive surveys.
“Fines are just one of the many tools used by the state,” Montano said. “We want California’s hospitals to be successful in their efforts to reduce hospital-acquired infections, decrease medication errors and eliminate surgical errors. Our efforts include the formation of partnerships for education and the promotion of the best safety practices.”
After the 2008 incident, Sutter Davis revised its CT policies and initiated a monitoring process to ensure the problem does not happen again.
“Sutter Davis Hospital takes great pride in the quality and safety of care we provide our patients,” said Sutter Davis spokesperson Nancy Turner. “In March 2008, when this incident occurred, we immediately reviewed the event to determine the necessary actions to improve our care, as is part of our hospital policy.”
Turner said that Sutter Davis has not decided whether to appeal.
The goal of the hospital fines is “to improve the quality of health care at all California hospitals,” Kathleen Billingsley, CDPH deputy director for health care quality, said in a telephone press conference Tuesday.
SARAH HANSEL can be reached at email@example.com.