Desert Regional Medical Center fined $100K for 2014 patient death

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs was fined $100,000 in connection with the death of a patient, who public health officials say died after the improper removal of a medical tube.

Officials from Desert Regional Medical Center could not be immediately reached for comment on the fine issued April 20 by the California Department of Public Health.

The fine stemmed from an August 2014 procedure conducted by a nurse who improperly removed a central venous catheter or CVC from a male patient, causing an embolism, according to state health officials. Patients should be lying down when a CVC is removed, as having the patient's head in a low position reduces the chance of air getting into the blood stream, according to a DPH report.

Check out all hospital administrative penalties for Riverside County

The patient, identified only as Patient A, was sitting upright in a chair when the procedure was performed, according to the state agency. He began suffering a seizure about 10 minutes after the CVC's removal and was later placed on life support. He was pronounced dead six days later in the hospital's intensive care unit.

According to Richard Ramhoff, director of marketing and public relations for Desert Regional Medical Center, as the California Health and Human Services documents states, "a nurse did not follow the facility's policy and procedure regarding the removal of a CVC". Ramhoff released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

"The administrative penalty is related to an occurrence from 2014. The hospital self-reported the event and subsequently undertook actions as part of a plan of correction approved by state and federal regulators."

Though the hospital has policies and procedures regarding patient positioning during CVC removal, public health officials found that the hospital did not do enough to ensure that its nurses followed the policy.

According to the report, ``The facility failed to ensure (the nurse) followed the facility's policy and procedure regarding patient positioning during the removal of Patient A's CVC. Patient A sustained irreversible brain
damage from the introduction of air bubbles into the blood stream, during the removal of the CVC. This failed practice was directly responsible for Patient A's death.''

The $100,000 penalty is the hospital's fourth ``immediate jeopardy administrative penalty,'' according to public health officials. According to the state's health and safety codes, ``immediate jeopardy means a situation in
which the licensee's noncompliance with one or more requirements of licensure has caused, or is likely to cause, serious injury or death to the patient.''

The Department of Public Health also issued 16 other penalties to hospitals in the state for incidents causing patient injury or death between 2012 and 2016. Desert Regional Medical Center was the only Riverside County hospital to be fined.

News: Healthy Families

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