Memorial Hospital fined for oversight that led to woman's death

Memorial Hospital fined for oversight that led to woman's death »Play Video
Bakersfield Memorial Hospital is seen in a KBAK/KBFX file photo.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Bakersfield Memorial Hospital has been fined $50,000 for patient endangerment, the California Department of Public Health said Friday.

Memorial Hospital was fined after it "did not follow established policies and procedures for patient monitoring and intervention," the state agency said.

Cardiac rhythm alarms were not answered in a prompt manner, and a 63-year-old woman died, according to CDPH.

The incident occurred in the spring of 2010. A battery died in the woman's cardiac monitor, and she suffered an "unmonitored cardiac arrest," CDPH said.

The state found that the audible low-battery alarms were turned off that night, leaving only visual indications of low batteries. A dedicated monitor technician wasn't on duty, and the nurse reported that she was stretched too thin to catch the low battery indicator.

"I was working as a monitor tech and unit secretary. I had to do the paperwork for six admits that night, as well as be the charge nurse from 7 till 8 p.m. The floor was very busy, and people kept coming to me asking questions. I don't remember seeing the battery alarm. I don't know what happened," the nurse on duty told state investigators, according to the CDPH report.

Read the full "statement of deficiencies" report from the CDPH >>

Memorial Hospital President and CEO Jon Van Boening released a statement Friday in response to the CDPH penalty: "Patient safety is our highest priority at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. Memorial Hospital self reported this event in 2010 to the California Department of Public Health and has addressed the underlying issues related to the event, retrained hospital employees and revised policies and protocols to ensure these types of incidents do not happen in the future."

Read the full Memorial Hospital response >>

Fines were also announced Friday for seven other hospitals throughout the state. All were found to not be meeting licensing requirements, and their shortcomings risked serious injury or death to patients, the CDPH said.

This is Memorial Hospital’s second administrative penalty, the state said.