Fresno hospital fined 5th time in 4 years over patient safety violations

Fresno, Calif.-based Community Regional Medical Center was fined $78,750 by the state after a cancer patient died following a surgery in which a foreign object was left inside the individual. It is the second time the facility has been fined for leaving an object behind after surgery since 2019, The Fresno Bee reported May 19.

The fine is reportedly the highest in state history against a hospital for the category of immediate jeopardy. Data from the California Department of Public Health shows that Community Regional Medical Center has been fined a total of five times for various procedural violations since 2015. That year, in 2015, it was fined a total of $92,000 for a "medical information breach" related to administrative policies. 

Specifically related to immediate jeopardy fines, the facility has racked up a total of $221,000 in penalties for these events which occurred in 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023, according to state data. In 2022, the fine was for operating on the incorrect body part of a patient, the Fresno Bee reported. The $221,000 does not include the $92,000 amount.

In the most recent case, the patient, who was 70, died after what was described as a: flat metal object used to hold back tissue during surgery was left inside her abdomen. After complaining of pain following the surgery, she underwent a second to remove it and died following the second procedure, the Fresno Bee reported.

Becker's reached out to the facility for comment and received the following statement attributed to Thomas Utecht, MD, the chief medical officer of the Community Health System: "Community strives at all times to provide the best care to each and every one of our patients. When patient care concerns are raised, we take them very seriously. These cases have been reviewed by our internal clinical and patient safety teams and their findings, in conjunction with the California Department of Public Health, have and will help us continue to drive to our goal of zero harm."

The medical center is not the only one in the Fresno region to be hit with fines from the state for putting patients in danger. Saint Agnes Medical Center and Clovis Community Medical Center were also fined by the state over adverse events in recent years, the outlet reported.


Editor's note: This story was updated May 22 at 6:27 p.m. CDT to include a statement from Community Regional Medical Center.

Copyright © 2023 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars