Hoag is fined for error

Surgeons at Newport hospital left a retractor blade inside patient, then reopened him to remove it, according to report.

August 19, 2008|By Daniel Tedford

The state’s Department of Public Health fined Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian $25,000 for “failing to ensure patient safety” when a retractor blade was left in a patient’s abdomen and later removed during a second surgery, according to a report issued by the department.

During a surgery on April 14 to treat a patient with a renal mass, horseshoe kidney, lung cancer, thyroid cancer and pelvic mass, doctors and the nursing staff failed to complete an instrument count before the patient’s assistive breathing tube was removed and before doctors closed the patient’s skin over his stomach area, where the surgery was being performed, according to the report. Both items were violations of hospital policy, according to the report.

During the instrument count, the nursing staff learned a Bookwalter retractor blade was missing, according to the report. Doctors determined the blade was within the stomach area after an X-ray. Another surgery was performed to remove the blade, according to the report. The state department determined the violation “has caused, or is likely to cause, serious injury or death to the patient.”


The patient’s name was not released, and though the patient is alive, the extent of injury, if any, was not released by the hospital or the state department. No other names of hospital staff were released in the report.

Hoag Hospital declined to comment on the matter, and the state department deferred to its news release and report for any comment.

The fine is being assessed under an administrative penalty, a law that went into effect in 2007 giving the department the authority to do so. Hoag Hospital can appeal the penalty within 10 days of notification.

In California, 18 hospitals were hit with fines of $25,000 from the state department this week, with five of those coming from Orange County.

DANIEL TEDFORD may be reached at (714) 966-4632 or at

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