Kaiser trash inspections end in $49M settlement

Kaiser Permanente has agreed to a $49 million settlement to resolve claims that its hospital and health plan subsidiaries unlawfully disposed of hazardous waste, medical waste and protected health information at California facilities. 

The settlement with Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals results from undercover inspections of dumpsters from 16 different Kaiser facilities, conducted by the district attorneys' offices. 

"During those inspections, the district attorneys' offices reviewed the contents of unsecured dumpsters destined for disposal at publicly accessible landfills, finding hundreds of items of hazardous and medical waste (aerosols, cleansers, sanitizers, batteries, electronic wastes, syringes, medical tubing with body fluids, and pharmaceuticals) and over 10,000 paper records containing the information of over 7,700 patients," according to the news release from California Attorney General Rob Bonta about the settlement. 

As part of its settlement, Kaiser will pay $47.25 million, and an additional $1.75 million in civil penalties if it does not spend $3.5 million on enhanced environmental compliance measures at its California facilities within five years. 

The integrated health system must also retain an independent third-party auditor to perform at least 520 trash compactor audits at its California facilities and conduct at least 40 programmatic field audits annually for five years. 

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