California hospital fined $40k after physician left patient mid-hysterectomy: 5 things to know

Brian Zimmerman - Print  | 

California public health officials on Thursday fined St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka $40,000 after discovering a physician left a patient in the middle of a hysterectomy to perform an emergency cesarean section in 2014, according to the Eureka Times Standard.

Here are five things to know.

1. The California Department of Public Health said the violation was likely to cause serious injury or death to the patient, according to a 2015 report,. Health department inspectors conducted interviews at the hospital and determined the violation was caused by a lack of available specialists on staff.

2. The physician, an on-call laborist, told investigators there was no general surgeon available to take over the hysterectomy. In its report, the department said the hospital violated state laws regarding staffing and patient safety. Additionally, the department found the physician violated rules barring on-call laborists from scheduling elective surgeries during an on-call shift.

3. The hospital responded to the state's findings in September 2015, saying it corrected the identified issues and made changes to prevent scheduling conflicts among on-call physicians.

4. St. Joseph Hospital's Interim CEO David Southerland told the Times Standard patient safety is a top priority for the hospital.

"We deeply regret that this incident occurred," Mr. Southerland said. "Ensuring patient safety and delivering extraordinary care is fundamental to our hospital's mission and values. We perform rigorous internal reviews of our quality and safety on a regular basis. We are confident that our focus on continuous improvement will uphold our commitment to providing a safe environment for our patients."

5. St. Joseph was among 10 hospitals fined by the state Thursday. In total, the state issued more than $618,000 in fines for violations that occurred between 2012 and 2016.  

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