The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has ordered the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center to pay $71,275 as a fine for willfully violating safety protocols. The violation was unveiled by Cal/OSHA personnel while investigating the hospital for another safety transgression and as per the reports the violation posed a high risk of contracting infectious diseases for the staff, patients and visitors.
Alta Bates Summit has been fined for placing 24 patients, suspected to have tuberculosis, in substandard airborne isolation rooms, without any measures to prevent potentially infectious air from venting into other areas of the hospital. Sutter Health will be paying the fine for its affiliate; however, no deadline has been set for the rebuilding of isolation rooms by Alta Bates Summit. The isolation rooms are located in the intensive care unit, housed in the hospital’s old facility. The rooms not only have substandard conditions but the old facility’s ICU also does not have functioning toilets.
The hospital has a newly-opened wing but it does not have intensive care isolation rooms, due to which the cases requiring isolation are kept in the old facility. Zenei Cortez, R.N., CNA co-president said “It is unconscionable that Sutter once again demonstrated a callous lack of safety precautions that placed the health and safety of others at risk.” Ebola crisis was a strong reminder that hospitals must be fully equipped for dealing with infectious diseases. The Cal/OSHA has imposed the highest fine for willful violation on Alta Bates Summit. The situation also indicates that the management officials were aware of the problem but did not take any step in this regard and did not even notify the staff about the possibility of an infection.
Previously Alta Bates Summit violated another protocol by admitting a patient with meningcoccal disease and not reporting the incident to local health officials. It also failed to notify exposed personnel in a timely fashion which resulted in a respiratory technician and a police officer with the Oakland Police Department getting infected. The tech suffered hearing loss along with other permanent injuries and became incapable of working in his position. The police officer also suffered permanent injuries and was put on disability retirement.