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Medical mistakes lead to penalties for San Diego hospitals

A number of San Diego hospitals received scrutinizing reviews from the federal government recently. Seven healthcare facilities were penalized for hospital negligence that could have harmed patients.

Although medical errors have fallen 17 percent between 2010 and 2013, the federal government still initiated a nationwide crackdown on medical errors in order to further reduce the number of unnecessary patient injuries. Penalties were assessed to 721 hospitals across the country for improper care of patients, including seven facilities in the San Diego region. The penalties assigned related to elevated rates of "hospital-acquired" conditions-problems such as blood clots or bedsores that are deemed to be avoidable. Sanctions for the healthcare facilities cited include a 1 percent reduction in Medicare payments through next September. The fines are expected to total nearly $373 million nationwide, the harshest penalty assessed by the government in its efforts to improve patient care.

Hospitals are corporations with many opportunities to assume liability when medical care has proven to be insufficient. A hospital may be directly liable for its own negligence, but it can also be vicariously liable for negligence committed by its employees. For example, every healthcare facility must meet certain staffing requirements. If a hospital fails to ensure a sufficient number of nurses are on duty at all times to provide the necessary quality of care, patients may suffer and incur additional injuries. This type of hospital neglect can incur liability for any resulting patient injury.

Patients entering the hospital are already in a heightened state of vulnerability. Specified standards and regulations are in place to make sure these individuals receive the care they deserve. For healthcare facilities that fail their patients and breach the standards of care, medical malpractice lawsuits fight to recover the financial loss an injured patient wrongfully endured.

Source: KPBS, "7 San Diego Hospitals Penalized for Medical Mistakes", Kenny Goldberg, Dec. 19, 2014

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