St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach was one of eight Los Angeles County hospitals fined after investigations found the facilities’ noncompliance with licensing requirements caused, or was likely to cause, serious injury or death to patients, the state Department of Public Health announced last week.
A total of 14 California hospitals were fined, including hospitals in Orange County, San Diego County and Santa Barbara County. The fines ranged from $28,500 to $100,000.
St. Mary Medical Center was fined $50,000 after a patient walked out of the emergency room and died after jumping off the roof of the parking structure on July 24, 2013. The CDPH found that staff did not properly assess the patient for suicide risk.
Staff implemented new procedures to assess a patient’s “elopement” risk of leaving the emergency room, the report said.
“We took this matter that occurred in 2013 very seriously by conducting a thorough investigation,” said Julie Sprengel, acting president of St. Mary Medical Center. “Since then, we have worked closely with our medical staff, patient care staff and hospital leadership to continuously improve upon protocols and policies.”
College Hospital in nearby Cerritos, which specializes in psychiatric care, was fined for two separate incidents.
In 2012, a 17-year-old suicidal patient was left unattended in a restroom by a nurse and hung herself with the hose of a shower head. The patient died and College Hospital was fined $50,000. Hospital officials then devised a new policy where the hose would be stored in a secure location outside of the restroom.
College Hospital was also fined $75,000 when a patient admitted for being a danger to himself was left unattended in the shower and attempted to hang himself with an article of clothing. Staff subsequently received guidelines for limiting the number of clothing articles taken into the shower by patients, according to the report.
Other hospitals receiving fines were AHMC Anaheim Regional Medical Center ($47,025), Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park ($50,000), Keck Hospital of USC ($100,000), Los Angeles Community Hospital ($75,000), Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria ($28,500), Pacifica Hospital of the Valley in Sun Valley ($75,000), Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego ($100,000), South Coast Global Medical Center in Santa Ana ($50,000), Southern California Hospital at Hollywood ($50,000), St. Joseph Hospital in Orange ($66,000), Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside ($47,025), and Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys ($50,000).
City News Service contributed to this report.