Medical errors are frequently devastating to patient families and preventable. Hospital errors occur in some of the most well regarded medical centers around the country and even the most competent physicians can make a mistake that forever alters the life of a patient and his or her family.
There are a variety of ways that medical professionals are held accountable for their negligent actions including personal injury lawsuits. State regulators across the country also seek to control the incidents of medical malpractice with varying degrees of success.
In a bold move, state officials in California recently fined 12 hospitals for medical errors which in some cases caused the wrongful death of patients. The medical errors varied from prescribing the wrong medication to a patient to leaving foreign objects in a patient's body during a surgery. Fines against the hospitals ranged from $50,000 to $75,000 for each mistake.
"Most of these are preventable medical errors," stressed a spokesman for the California Department of Public Health. "Either someone was harmed or killed or likely to be harmed."
One hospital was fined after a 76-year-old patient died when he was given a dose of methadone intended for another patient. Another hospital was fined for leaving a bottle of lens defogging solution inside of a patient during a surgery which was not discovered until that patient came in for another operation. Another hospital was fined for leaving a sponge inside of patient. The sponges were not accurately counted post-surgery because a nurse was in a hurry to take a lunch break.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "12 hospitals are fined over medical errors," Anna Gorman, Sept. 8, 2011