CBS2 Investigation Uncovers Hospital Mistakes
LOS ANGELES (CBS) Medical mistakes at hospitals have been kept a dark secret, but we're ready to expose what really goes on in the O.R. Investigative reporter David Goldstein has obtained state files detailing the most serious medical errors.
"That's where they went in and removed the sponges."
From sponges left after an operation.
"His words -- I won't forget them -- he said, 'there's a foreign object in you and we think it might be a sponge.'"
"I don't want to talk about this."
To a baby mistakenly aborted.
"They said there was nothing they could do. It was a misdiagnosis and a mistake."
"This is the knee I originally had pain in and this is the knee they operated on."
To an operation on the wrong limb.
"I was really dumbfounded how a mistake like this could be made."
These are some of the things that never should occur in hospitals, but we uncovered case after case… after case happening at an alarming rate.
"It tells us that these errors are rampant in our hospital system."
It's a secret California hospitals have kept under wraps forever. But in July of last year, the medical centers were ordered by the state to report the worst types of medical mistakes. We've obtained copies of some of those incidents.
We found 172 cases statewide of foreign objects left in patients, 28 instances of surgery performed on the wrong body part and 13 cases of the wrong surgical procedure performed on a patient; all totaled -- 1,224 medical errors over 12 months. That is an average of more than 100 a month.
We'll tell you the hospitals with the most errors in our area in just a moment.
There are 27 categories of mistakes called the "never 27."
"The 27 items should never occur because patients are harmed when they do."
Take the case of Robbie Munoz. This aspiring boxer went to St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange for arthroscopic surgery on his knee.
"The knee that I had pain in was the left knee."
The nurse even put her initials above his left knee before the operation. But Munoz awoke to find a bandage on his right knee. The doctor made a mistake.
"I didn't really believe that something like this could happen until it happened to me."
St. Joseph's reported the incident to the state as required by law. Investigators determined the violation was likely to cause serious injury or death. They were fined the maximum --$25,000. But apparently not all hospitals comply with the rules.
Safiya Baidi was eight weeks pregnant when doctors at California Hospital in downtown L.A. aborted her baby when they thought it was developing outside the womb.
Further testing showed the doctor was wrong. A nurse broke the news.
"She finally told me it was misdiagnosed and mistake. And doctor finally showed up and I said, 'are you sure?' I was devastated."
Ed Ornelas still wipes away tears when he thinks of almost dying from an emergency appendectomy. But this retired LAPD officer had to undergo another surgery after doctors realized they left five sponges inside.
"I was upset, scared, I just couldn't understand how a doctor -- a professional -- could do that."
It happened at South Coast Medical Center in Laguna Beach. But the hospital never reported it to the state, as they are required by law. Neither did California Hospital. State health officials are now investigating after we brought it to their attention.
Critics say for that reason, hospitals can't be trusted.
"It's sort of like telling a driver, 'If you get caught speeding, write a check and send it in.'"
Here's what we uncovered looking at the 27 categories. The hospitals with the most medical mistakes in our area:
- San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland -- 5 mistakes
- Hoag Memorial in Newport Beach -- 5 mistakes
- Olive View-UCLA in Sylmar -- 4 mistakes
- Saddleback Memorial in Laguna Hills -- 4 mistakes
These are only the ones that have been confirmed. But there are hundreds more medical mistakes in Southern California that are still being investigated.
"I think people are shocked to find out hospitals are so dangerous."
If you want to look up your hospital go to our website. We have every confirmed case of medical mistakes reported by all our area hospitals over the past year.
Response From Hospitals
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