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Hospital Errors Result in Large Fines for Facilities Across the Country

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Hospital errors occur everywhere, but several hospitals in California have recently been fined for their errors.  The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is the agency in charge of assessing the fines, and asserts that they are necessary to deter the facilities from continuing to make the same mistakes.  The errors have included the following: 1) improperly administered feeding formula through a catheter, 2) leaving a sponge inside a patient after gallbladder removal, 3) an unnecessary incision during removal of a left testicle, and 4) failure to connect a patient to a ventilator resulting in his death.  The fines range from $50,000 to $125,000, but many say that although severe fines may hurt a hospital's finances, it does little or nothing to stop errors from occurring.  Clearly errors are still occuring at rates higher than most of us would like to think about before going in for surgery or other treatment.  Dr. Peter Pronovost of Johns Hopkins said that instead of just fining health centers, there should be technological solutions as well as checklists and better safety culture in order to improve care and prevent these errors.  In addition, some of the risky procedures at issue for which fines were assessed were not approved by the review board of the FDA.  FDA oversight and required approval would also improve care and reduce risk for many procedures.

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