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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.

Janice December 20, 2012 at 08:35 PM
This does not surprise me. My Mama was there in 2011 and had a Dr. trying to play God by not giving her anything to eat or drink, this was not what my brother and myself wanted for our Mother so I addressed the situation one more time with the Dr. and he said "she will never have anything to eat or drink on my watch". Nothing left for me to do but see her Primary Dr. who knew the family very well and agreed with me, the possibility of a feeding tube. Long story short she was examined by a Dr. the same day I visited the primary and was perfect for a feeding tube. The Wonderful Dr. came back on his lunch hour the following day and our Mama came up having food again. I think, God is the only one to decide who lives and dies, not some Dr. that has no history and is not interested in hearing any. This provided the family with another wonderful 8 months with her and soon after she was home she was eating and drinking with out the tube. I was surprised Mission had a Dr. (choosing who has the right to live and who doesn't) on their staff.??
Peter Schelden (Editor) December 20, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story, Janice.
Sherry Moeller December 21, 2012 at 03:15 PM
What I really would like to know is the name of the surgeon! I live in the area and might have to have back surgery. Really would not want this Doctor working on me!
kelly December 21, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I agree, what would actually help people is knowing who the surgeon is.
concerned parent December 21, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Should the name of the surgeon not be a matter of public record? Patch should also dig deeper--does this surgeon still have the right to practice at Mission Hospital? If not, what other hospitals does he work at? What does it take for someone's medical license to be yanked? A fine alone isn't going to solve anything. I imagine $100,000 is chump change for Mission, with the publicity more damaging than the fine itself. But the surgeon's actions seem egregious, and given that the state is the one that levied the fine, it certainly seems reasonable to release his name. Also, Mission's PR person truly has a responsibility to address this.
Matt Gaffney December 21, 2012 at 05:56 PM
That's too bad. I had heart valve replacement surgery at Mission in April 1997 & my daughter Laura had a brain tumor removed at Mission in October 2003. The care we both received at Mission was phenomenal. No complaints here.
MFriedrich December 21, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Oh man. This is why surgeons pay between $40,000 to $200,000 in malpractice insurance premiums every year. Maybe we should let that sink in a second before we piss and moan about their 6 figure salaries and "arrogance". But, of course, with sensationalist news stories like this one, we're all going to decide to dismiss the no doubt hundreds of successful surgeries this doctor may have performed over his career. Those don't count. We only care about the screw up. It's a sad and unfortunate mistake. Good thing no one died or was maimed. But this happens, and anyone who doesn't recognize this probability needs to wake up from their delusion. Surgery is dangerous. Ask any surgeon whether he/she has ever made a horrible mistake. I think you'll be very surprised that the majority of these people are not "god" at all, and don't pretend to be one.
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 (Editor) 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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