Criminal probe targets Kaiser hospital following patient's death

Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation following the death of an 86-year-old patient in late 2015, according to NBC Bay Area.

According to a search warrant affidavit from the San Francisco Police Department obtained by NBC Bay Area, authorities are investigating whether a nurse committed a crime when she silenced an alarm on a medical device connected to the elderly patient.

An investigation by the California Department of Public Health concluded the patient was in the intensive care unit undergoing treatment for kidney failure when a dialysis tube pumping blood back into his body came loose, which triggered an alarm on the device. The patient's family members, who were in the room at the time of the incident, told state investigators a nurse silenced the alarm without checking the dialysis tube and then left the room.

When the nurse returned to the room a short time later and pulled back a blanket covering the patient, a pool of blood had formed and the tube from the dialysis machine had become disconnected, according to the patient's family members. The patient died two days later, according to the report.

Although the nurse told state investigators she never heard the alarm, the California Department of Public Health fined Kaiser $58,700 for the incident and not reporting it as law requires. The investigation also revealed Kaiser threw away evidence, including the patient's dialysis tubes.

In a statement to NBC Bay Area, Kaiser said, "We sincerely regret that this incident occurred and extend our sympathy to the family involved. While such a case is rare, we take full responsibility for the provision of safe, quality care to our patients."

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