Anybody know what sort of surgeries this place did? I'd never heard of it.
State shuts Inland hospital
HEALTH: "I've never seen anything quite this dysfunctional," a regulator says.
11:35 PM PDT on Monday, May 24, 2004
By DOUGLAS E. BEEMAN / The Press-Enterprise
The medical center in
no emergency room
At least 4 patients died from March 12 to April 24.
In a rare move, state regulators shut down a Rancho Cucamonga hospital, claiming staff deprived patients of nourishment, failed to change respiratory equipment until it was visibly filthy and relied on paramedics to resuscitate heart patients.
"I've never seen anything quite this dysfunctional," said Brenda Klutz, deputy director of the state Department of Health Services, which regulates hospitals.
State regulators typically give hospitals time to correct problems and rarely even come close to shutting down a facility. Klutz said this is the first time in her 12 years as deputy director that she has signed a temporary hospital suspension order to close a facility.
State health department regulators responded earlier this month to a series of complaints from current and former staff and patients' families and found patient care at Angels Hospital in such disarray that within 12 hours they ordered the hospital to transfer its six patients elsewhere. The hospital is licensed for 55 beds.
Doctor faces probe
In addition, state officials have referred one physician to the state medical board for possible disciplinary action, and several more referrals may follow, Klutz said. Several nurses also may be referred for disciplinary review to the Board of Registered Nursing, she said.
Stan Lim / The Press-Enterprise
State health department have shut down Angels Hospital in Rancho Cucamonga, accusing the hospital of failing to provide adequate care.
Hospital representatives could not be reached for comment. An attorney representing the hospital, Jodi Berlin, declined to comment.
Angels Hospital, at 10841 White Oak Ave., opened about a year ago in a facility once occupied by bankrupt Heritage Hospital. Angels Hospital had no emergency room. Most of its patients were there for elective surgeries performed by surgeons with privileges at the hospital, Klutz said.
After the May 7 inspection, state inspectors returned the next day and prohibited the hospital from accepting any more patients or performing surgeries until regulators could complete their investigation, Klutz said. Although the state investigation continues, regulators are now pressing to revoke the hospital's license.
At least four patients died between March 12 and April 24, although state officials declined to say whether the deaths were directly related to neglect or to other causes.
According to the state's administrative accusation against Angels Hospital and its officers:
A notice of the closing is posted on the door of Angels Hospital. State officials referred one physician to the state medical board for possible discipline, and several more referrals may follow, a regulator said.
On at least three occasions hospital staff called in paramedics to handle medical emergencies because no doctor was available. In one case, hospital staff called upon paramedics to place a breathing tube in a patient when they couldn't do it themselves. Two of the patients died.
The hospital ran short of the amino acid liquid nutrition at least two patients needed to help their bodies repair damaged tissue. One patient was given too little or none of the liquid nutrition, resulting in "severely low" serum and blood proteins that put the patient at risk for infections, starvation, further illness or death, according to the state's accusation.
The other patient also had low serum and blood protein levels. But instead of increasing the patient's liquid amino acid nutrition, a pharmacist on March 11 ordered a decrease in nutrition. About two weeks later, the patient died.
The hospital was supposed to change ventilator tubing every two days to minimize the risk of bacterial infections in patients. Due to budget constraints in March, the hospital changed ventilator tubes only when they were visibly soiled, according to the state's accusation. One patient whose tubing was changed only twice in one month died at the hospital March 26 of heart and lung arrest, widespread bleeding and infection and pneumonia, according to the state report.
Cardiac telemetry machines designed to monitor for potentially fatal heart disruptions were left unmonitored for three hours on March 21. In addition, the sound alarms on the machines were turned down so low they could not be heard throughout the unit, according to the accusation.
One medical record said a patient died at 2 p.m. April 24, but a different record said the patient was still alive and being given heart drugs nearly two hours later.
The hospital also shorted patients' medicines and failed to follow doctors' orders for consultations with other specialty physicians.
Basic safety problems
"There were clear cases of incompetency," Klutz said. "You don't turn off the alarm on a telemetry monitor while you are away from the unit for two to three hours."
Inspectors also found basic safety problems, such as staff spread too thin or unqualified to perform their assigned duties. One nurse, for example, was assigned to the telemetry unit, the operating room and the post-operative unit all at the same time, Klutz said. "That's not safe."
The hospital is owned by Angels Medical Center Inc., whose primary owner is Marylou Fernando of Rancho Palos Verde, according to state hospital licensing records. She could not be reached for comment.
Klutz said she didn't know whether any of the actions by the hospital's staff or owners amounted to criminal actions.
"Once we have all the paperwork together, we will be turning it over to the people who can make that determination," she said.
Reach Douglas E. Beeman at (909) 368-9549 or firstname.lastname@example.org