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Mission Hospital Slapped with $100,000 Fine

After performing spinal surgery on the wrong bone, the hospital must pay a state-mandated penalty. It's the sixth such fine since 2009.

A back surgery performed on the wrong bone will cost Mission Hospital $100,000, the California Department of Public Health announced Thursday. It was the hospital's sixth administrative penalty since 2009.

The mishap occurred in 2010 after the hospital failed to mark the skin of a patient and the surgeon ignored a radiologist's X-ray reports, the state investigation concluded.

(Last year the hospital was fined .)

When an 85-year-old woman with a curved and narrow spine was admitted for surgery, a surgeon failed to operate on all her affected back bones. That omission led to a second, potentially lethal surgery, the state concluded in its report.

In the time between surgeries, a bone in the woman's back slid forward over the bone below it. That required surgeons to cut into her back to remove the bone during the second surgery.

Hospital staff told investigators the X-ray image of the unnamed patient's back was "very small," so they could not make out any "anatomical landmarks" to show where on the spine the surgery should be performed.

The state concluded the unnamed surgeon did not mark the skin before surgery as required by law, and had not read the radiologist's report on the post-operative X-ray of the spine.

An administrative penalty carries a fine of $50,000 for the first violation, $75,000 for the second, and $100,000 for a third or subsequent violation. Incidents before 2009 are not counted when determining the fine amounts.

A hospital representative would not answer questions Thursday morning until a statement was provided. The statement was not immediately provided to Patch.

Mission Hospital performs about 10,000 surgeries each year between its Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach locations, a hospital representative said last year.

Rhen Kohan December 21, 2012 at 06:19 PM
This was also covered in the Register yesterday, http://www.ocregister.com/articles/surgery-381261-hospital-patient.html. The fine of $100000 is not totally common so this is serious. When I read these details it is quite daunting as MIssion is the major hospital in our area. Cannot we trust them from such mistakes? THese feedback from the family for their mother shows how important it is to speak up as a patient, if you can, and also have someone there keeping watch and advocating for you, and asking questions. These patients should have been totally secure from such mistakes. I also agree with the above feedback - who are these doctors?
Peter Schelden December 21, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Sensationalistic, mfriedrich? How so?
JustUs December 21, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Pay no attention, Peter. Go read his other stuff and then you'll understand.
Panglonymous December 21, 2012 at 07:08 PM
"...how important it is to speak up as a patient, if you can, and also have someone there keeping watch and advocating for you, and asking questions." Hear, hear. An informed, assertive advocate is essential, imo. Beware the iatrogenic cascade. It can be stunning (and crippling or deadly.)
JUDY ELMAYAN December 22, 2012 at 12:00 AM
2 things- 1. RSM Needs its own community hospital. Towns far smaller have their own. Driving in pain or driving some one in pain all they way to another community is not good. They are build more homes and this area can support it. We are an aging population and need a closer hospital. 2. The surgeon should be fined and kicked out of the hospital. It is his ego that caused this to happen. The hospital is at fault only for allowing him to work there. They did not tell him to not mark the surgical site.

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