California hospital fined $80K+ after anesthesiologist injects wrong drug during C-section

Mercy Hospital Southwest was fined $83,250 after an anesthesiologist accidentally injected a cesarean section patient with heart failure medication rather than numbing medication, Bakersfield.com reports.

Six details to know:

1. The California Department of Public Health penalized the Bakersfield, Calif.-based hospital on the grounds that the mistake could have caused death or severe disability. It determined that the hospital "failed to implement its policy and procedure to prevent the wrong medication from being administered."

2. The hospital thoroughly investigated the incident and is taking steps to prevent similar errors, a hospital representative told Bakersfield.com.

3. The patient was undergoing a scheduled cesarean section on Aug. 16, 2018, when an anesthesiologist injected the heart failure medication digoxin into her spine instead of the numbing agent bupivacaine. The anesthesiologist reportedly said the mistake occurred because he was "in a hurry."

4. The woman became unresponsive, experiencing multiple seizures, elevated heart rate and elevated blood pressure. She was admitted to the intensive care unit and transferred to a different hospital's neurology intensive care unit two days later, after remaining less than fully responsive.

5. The woman was discharged from the second hospital on Sept. 11, according to 23ABC News. She will undergo outpatient neurological rehabilitation, but a hospital spokesperson declined to provide further details on the woman's condition. The report did not provide information about the baby's condition.

6. This is the hospital's second "immediate jeopardy" penalty, meaning it has previously violated its licensure requirements in a way that could cause a patient's death or serious injury.

More articles on anesthesia:
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NAPA anesthesiologists win national performance accolade — 4 details
Viewpoint: How payers are suppressing anesthesia payments — 3 observations

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