SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced today that 13 California hospitals have been assessed administrative penalties of $25,000 per violation after a determination that the facilities’ noncompliance with licensing requirements has caused, or was likely to cause, serious injury or death to patients.
There were 355 hospitals (nonfederal, short term, general, and specialty hospitals whose services and facilities were open to the public) in California in 2007, the latest year for which I have an accurate count. There are 5 main University of California medical centers. Of the 14 episodes of noncompliance with licensing requirements that "caused or [were] likely to cause serious injury or death to patients," four of those episodes were at University of California main medical centers. A fifth episode was at the Harbor-UCLA medical center, which, while not one of the main UC medical centers, is run by UCLA.
This means that the five main UC medical centers, in addition to Harbor-UCLA, were over 32 times more likely than all other California hospitals to generate an episode of "noncompliance with licensing requirements that caused or was likely to cause serious injury or death to patients." Something to keep in mind if you are hospitalized. Well, something to keep in mind if you want to live, anyway.
As a visual aid to the disproportion involved, here's one asterisk: *
compared to 32 asterisks: * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
If the one asterisk represents a chance that a California, but non UC, hospital generated an episode of "noncompliance with licensing requirements that caused or was likely to cause serious injury or death to patients," then the 32 asterisks represent the chance, based on the data above, that a UC hospital generated such an episode.
Further, of the institutions listed in the press release, the one with the largest history of penalties for such episodes of noncompliance was Harbor-UCLA (four such penalties so far). According to the press release, UC Irvine was the only institution to merit two such penalties in this reporting period. Wow.
addendum: well, if you die at UCLA, at least there's historical precedent for your still being involved in the process of commerce. A businessman accused of selling body parts from corpses donated to UCLA medical school in a scandal that tarnished the reputation of the university's willed body program was found guilty today in Los Angeles Superior Court of conspiring to commit grand theft, embezzlement and tax evasion.
Update 03/19/11 regarding the "willed body" scandal:" http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-banks-20110319,0,6741888.column
Update 05/20/10: No University of California hospitals were on the California Department of Public Health most recent list of "hospitals [that] have been assessed administrative penalties after a determination that the facilities’ noncompliance with licensing requirements has caused, or was likely to cause, serious injury or death to patients." Good news. On the other hand, on (just about) the same day, the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced two cases of "immediate jeopardy" at U. California, Irvine.