Sep 7, 2011 8:18 PM by Danielle Lerner

CMC slapped with $50,000 fine after deadly mistake in 2009

For the first time the California Men's Colony is slapped with a penalty from the State Department of Public Health. It is all because of a mistake that led to a patient's death.

A state report shows a 76-year-old man died after a registered nurse at the CMC's hospital gave the man a dose of methadone intended for another patient in the same room. That nurse has not cared for patients since 2009 and is currently in a non-clinical position. The Department of Public Health found the hospital failed to implement written policies and procedures to ensure the safe and effective administration of medication.

In January 2009 a new state law took effect that increased the fines for these violations to $50,000 for the first, $75,000 for the second and $100,000 for the third. Violations before 2009 carried a $25,000 fine. The state says since 2008, the number of violations is down 12 percent.

"I think these penalties have raised the awareness in the health care industry," said Pam Dickfoss, acting deputy director for the Center for Health Care Quality. "Hospitals are working very closely with us to incorporate policies and procedures to prevent the recurrance of these events."

The Department of Public Health says medication error is the most common violation it sees. Since 2009 CMC has been taking corrective action, including things like reviewing policies and procedures, evaluating staff competency, and the development of a patient safety committee.

California Correctional Health Care Services is still investigating the incident.

The CMC has 10 days to appeal the penalty.


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