Kindred Hospital Modesto was fined $75,000 -- more than any other hospital in the state -- in the latest round of state administrative penalties against hospitals for violations that threatened harm to patients.
On Thursday, the state Department of Public Health announced that 11 hospitals in California were assessed penalties of $25,000 for each health and safety violation that had potential for causing serious injury or death to patients. The maximum penalty under state law is $25,000 per violation.
One of the three violations at Kindred, a long-term acute care facility at 730 17th St., was related to the death of a 44-year-old paraplegic patient last year. Cuauhtemoc Tingwall of Clayton died from asphyxiation Jan. 14, 2007, after becoming entrapped in the side rails of his bed.
During a review in May, state investigators found the hospital had not made specific corrections to prevent other patients from being entrapped in the rails.
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The state fined Kindred $25,000 for the bed rail issue. The 99-bed hospital also was fined $25,000 for failing to implement procedures to prevent medication errors and $25,000 for not accounting for narcotic medications dispensed at the facility.
State officials notified Kindred of the penalties March 14. The hospital has 10 days to notify the state of an appeal.
Kindred officials responded to a request for comment by faxing a statement Thursday.
"We take seriously any issue brought to our attention by the state and we are continuing to work with the state to resolve outstanding issues. We are committed to continually monitoring, identifying and improving care practices."
The hospital issued a similar statement after Tingwall's death.
A state law effective in January 2007 authorized the state to assess monetary penalties against acute care hospitals for regulatory violations that jeopardize patients. Before that, hospitals were required only to submit plans to regulators showing how they would correct deficiencies.
The state announced the first round of penalties against nine hospitals in October. Four of the hospitals paid the fines and five appealed, said Kathleen Billingsley, deputy director of health care quality for the state.
The Kindred statement Thursday did not indicate whether it would appeal the fines.
The hospitals cited this time included small facilities such as Kindred and large centers, such as the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Eight of the 13 penalties were for not maintaining procedures to prevent dangerous errors in giving medicine to patients. Billingsley said the hospitals were required to make immediate corrections to ensure patient safety and also develop plans for improvement.
During a visit to Kindred Modesto in May 2007, state officials reported they found no evidence the hospital had a specific plan to prevent patients from getting trapped in bed rails. Hospital staff told officials that a spring 2006 survey by Kindred's parent company found that 95 of the 99 beds needed modifications to the bed rails to reduce the risk of entrapments.
When patients shifted their weight on the therapeutic mattresses, a pulsing action in the mattresses could push them away from the center toward the bed rails. Hospital staff secured the rails with zip ties as a temporary measure.
State records show the company planned to permanently modify 74 of the beds by August 2007. Kindred didn't say if the beds were modified.
To view details of the penalties against Kindred Hospital, go to www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/facilities/Pages/CountyStanislaus.aspx.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2321.