State looks into reports on patient care from CMC, ASH

Two facilities in San Luis Obispo County are among 87 hospitals that state regulators are investigating after they claimed to be free of errors that caused or could have caused serious injury or death to patients over the past three years.

Atascadero State Hospital and the California Men’s Colony are among the roughly 20 percent of facilities in California that had until Tuesday to confirm or deny their perfect track record of having no reportable incidents that fall under a new state law.

Introduced in 2007, the law mandates that the 418 hospital facilities in California report their errors so state regulators can monitor their procedures and tack on fines if mistakes are made or continued. The state has issued 170 penalties to facilities that have reported applicable errors since 2007, according to the state Department of Public Health.

CMC is standing by its error-free status, state Mental Health Department spokeswoman Nancy Kincaid said.

“Most of the (reportable errors) are related to procedures and services we don’t perform,” Kincaid said of CMC, a state prison with a limited-service medical suite.

CMC officials report errors outside the 2007 law’s scope on a regular basis.

“If a patient were to slip and fall in a hallway to having an adverse reaction to medication — everything gets reported,” she said.

At ASH, a facility that houses mentally ill offenders, officials say they have reported such errors, but their list may have gone to a different division within the state Department of Public Health because it was submitted as part of the hospital’s ongoing incident-reporting process. ASH officials have since pulled out the errors specific to the new law and submitted them to the regulators.

“At issue is where and how the information was reported,” ASH spokes-man Craig Dacus said, noting that officials are now “working together to address the issue and make clear the process for reporting such events.”

The facilities on the state’s error-free list were required to submit documentation outlining any unreported incidents or provide further explanations as to why they had none to report.

Any unreported events will result in fines, state regulators said, as will various disciplinary actions if the hospitals are uncooperative.

Reportable incidents are outlined in seven categories, each with its own detailed subsections. They range from performing surgery on the wrong body part or wrong patient to harm caused by someone impersonating a physician.

State regulators say they are notifying hospital facilities now of potential filing mistakes because it’s been long enough for hospitals to catch up with the new policy changes.

“It’s long been in our intention to look at this,” said state Department of Public Health spokesman Ralph Montano. “Now that’s it’s been over three years, we’re taking the next step.”

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