Last month several California hospitals were praised by the federal Health and Human Services Agency. This month a dozen hospitals were penalized for significant errors. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced twelve California hospitals have been assessed administrative penalties after it was determined the facilities’ noncompliance with licensing requirements caused, or was likely to cause, serious injury or death to patients. The department levied a total of $650,000 in fines for errors that occurred between 2008 and 2010. Most of the errors involved medication mistakes or surgical tools left inside patients after operations.

1. AHMC Anaheim Regional Medical Center, Anaheim, Orange County.
2. Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, Martinez, Contra Costa County.
3. Dominican Hospital, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County.
4. Emanuel Medical Center, Turlock, Stanislaus County.
5. Kaiser Foundation Hospital, San Francisco, San Francisco County.
6. Mills-Peninsula Medical Center, Burlingame, San Mateo County.
7. Palomar Medical Center, Escondido, San Diego County.
8. Pomerado Hospital, Poway, San Diego County.
9. Promise Hospital of East Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County.
10. Scripps Memorial Hospital – Encinitas, Encinitas, San Diego County.
11. Scripps Memorial Hospital – La Jolla, La Jolla, San Diego County.
12. Sharp Memorial Hospital, San Diego, San Diego County.

California law requires hospitals to report to the CDHP their noncompliance with their own policies and procedures. The CDPH investigates the reports and issues fines. If problems persist, the hospitals could lose their state operating license or their reimbursements from Medicare and Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program.

In addition to administrative penalties, hospitals may be held responsible by the injured patient. When it is suspected that a hospital’s error injured a patient, the hospital’s policies and procedures are crucial to showing the hospital’s accountability.