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Fullerton and Mission Viejo Hospitals Fined For Morphine Overdose and Surgical Error

December 31, 1969

The state's Department of Public Health has fined two Orange County hospitals over medical mistakes that led to the death of one patient and a second surgery for another. St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton and Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo are one of 14 California hospitals ordered to pay fines for life-threatening medical errors.

The Fullerton hospital was fined $75,000 because a nurse in training administered too much morphine to a patient, who then died. The Orange County, California medical mistake reportedly took place in 2009. The nurse, who was undergoing orientation at the time, reportedly did not understand a statement made by a doctor and mistakenly upped the patient's morphine dosage by tenfold. The nurse failed to verify the dose change with a second nurse, even though this is mandated by the hospital. Within hours the patient was dead from "acute morphine intoxication."

Meantime, Mission hospital has been ordered to pay $100,000 for a surgical mistake that left one patient with a metal screw cap in her body. The 71-year-old woman underwent the original procedure to have a metal implant inserted. During the back surgery, a metal screw cap, which should have been taken out, was left inside her. She had to undergo a second procedure to get it removed.

Inspectors believe that staff disregarded the Orange County, California hospital's policy for making sure that all surgical items are accounted for following a surgical procedure to make sure that no foreign objects are mistakenly left inside a patient's body. Since the incident, the Mission Viejo hospital has added implant screw caps to its surgical tray count and now mandates that an X-ray be conducted to check on all implant hardware prior to letting the patient leave the operating room.

"Hospitals and medical staff cannot afford to make any mistakes because the repercussions for a patient can prove fatal," said Anaheim medical malpractice attorney Vincent Howard of Howard Law, PC." "In addition to any actions imposed by the state, you too may be able to hold the negligent parties accountable by filing a civil claim."

In total, the California Department of Public Health fined the 14 hospitals $850,000. Medical errors committed by the other hospitals included (California

• Antibiotic overdose
• Leaving gauze inside a patient during a hysterectomy
• Administering vaccine that was improperly refrigerated to thousands of patients over a nearly three year period
• Failing to give an infant medication
• Conducting a partial, instead of a total, mastectomy on a patient
• An infant kidnapping by someone pretending to be a nurse
• Leaving a pin inside a patient's neck during spinal surgery
• Leaving a surgical sponge inside a patient
• Attempting to operate on the wrong eye
• Leaving a surgical towel inside a patient's abdomen

State fines two O.C. hospitals for medical errors, OC Register, December 8, 2011

Public Health Department Fines 14 Hospitals for Patient Safety Errors, California Healthline, December 9, 2011

More Blog Posts:
Convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter, Dr. Conrad Murray Still Faces Los Angeles Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over Michael Jackson's Fatal Overdose, California Injury Lawyers, November 8, 2011

$10M California Medical Malpractice Settlement Awarded to Family of Toddler Who Underwent Amputations Following 5 Hour ER Delay, California Injury Lawyers, October 29, 2011

Orange County, California Sex Abuse: Another Patient Accuses Anesthesiologist at Placentia-Linda Hospital, California Injury Lawyers, October 26, 2011

Contact Howard Law, PC at (800) 872-5925 and ask to speak with one of our experienced Orange County, California medical malpractice lawyers.