Saint Agnes Medical Center slapped with $50K fine

FRESNO, Calif.

State investigators say this is the fourth violation Saint Agnes Medical Center has received since 2007.

According to a state health report just released, an error during surgery caused serious health concerns for a female patient.

The report shows the woman came to the emergency room in 2010 with an intestinal infection. She underwent surgery to treat several abdominal related issues.

Three months later- the patient returned to Saint Agnes with abdominal pain. She was given IV's and medications and then released.

One month later, similar symptoms brought the patient back. And that's when an x-ray revealed a mass in the left abdomen. When doctors opened the patient up, they discovered the mistake.

State officials want the public to know where serious health related issues have come up and how they can protect themselves.

Debby Rogers with the California Department of Health told Action News, "We encourage patients to ask how can you prevent one of these events from happening to me, whether it's a surgery issue or medication error or another adverse event that would happen in a hospital."

State health officials fined 14 hospitals around California for serious health care concerns. Saint Agnes officials released a statement to Action News saying, "Our goal is always to provide the safest and highest quality of care possible. In this particular case, we did not meet that goal. However, once we recognized our mistake, we took immediate corrective actions."

Since the error, the report shows the hospital developed a policy to inventory objects, such as instruments and sponges used during surgeries. Hospital staff also switched operating room towels from the color blue, to white towels that can be detected in x-rays.

Several fines were issued for objects being left in patients during surgical procedures.

Rogers explained, "A full 50 percent related to errors related to surgical intervention or retained foreign objects after surgery."

This is the fourth penalty for Saint Agnes since 2007. Neither the patient nor the surgeon's name is listed in the report.

The hospital has been fined previously for failing to have a system in place to report and control surgical site infections, this after several patients were infected during heart surgeries.

Saint Agnes was also penalized in 2007 when a patient was given an overdose of pain medication.

Hospital officials at Saint Agnes say they self-reported to the state when they learned what happened. The hospital says patient care is their number one priority at the hospital.

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