Feeling lousy after surgery? State agency report might explain why

UCSF, California Pacific among 12 hospitals blamed for mistakes, including surgical objects left inside patients

Two well-known San Francisco hospitals—UCSF Medical Center and California Pacific Medical Center--are among 12 medical centers that have been slapped with administrative penalties by the California Department of Public Health for violations of health code ranging from improper medication distribution to leaving foreign objects inside surgery patients.

Each of the San Francisco hospitals received two penalties from CDPH, totaling $175,000 for the California Pacific center and $50,000 for UCSF. Both of California Pacific's violations were failure to follow "surgical policies and procedures," according to the CDPH report. One of the two charges against the UCSF hospital is for the same charge.

Kathleen Billingsly, the deputy director of the CDPH, said in a teleconference Friday morning that at least one of California Pacific's surgical violations was retention of a foreign object in a patient.

Most of the hospitals in violation are located in Southern California, but one other Bay Area hospital--the Petaluma Valley Hospital--received a $50,000 penalty for endangering the health and safety of patients during surgical procedures, the CDPH said.

The 14 penalties doled out Friday - which were for offenses committed in 2008, 2009, and 2010 - total about $525,000, Assistant Deputy Director Pamela Dickfoss said. Eight of the 14 violations revealed to the public Friday were for such forgetting of a foreign object inside a patient receiving surgery, Billingsly said. The objects ranged from drill bits to towels, and retention occurred in hospitals in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sonoma, Kings, Orange, San Diego, and Riverside counties.

Three hospitals also received penalties for failure to follow "policies and procedures for the safe distribution and administration of medication," including the medical center at UCSF, according to the department.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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