State health officials fined the county-run Edgemoor Geriatric Hospital in Santee $5,000 Friday for injecting penicillin into a woman who was allergic to the drug.
It's the latest embarrassment suffered by the hospital, which already faced $30,000 in fines for infractions of state health codes.
At 5 a.m. Tuesday, an on-call physician prescribed penicillin for the unidentified patient when telephoned by a nurse who told him the patient had a fever, Paul Simms, county deputy director of health services, said Friday.
The patient's charts indicated she was allergic to penicillin, yet the medicine was injected at 5:45 a.m. Tuesday, Simms said.
The woman did not show signs of an allergic reaction, he added. However, she was taken to Grossmont Hospital for observation. She has since been returned to Edgemoor.
The $5,000 fine--known as a "Class A" violation--was confirmed by Joan Dowling, regional administrator of the Department of Health Services' Licensing and Certification Division in Santa Ana.
Edgemoor officials, who could not be reached for comment, have five working days from Friday to appeal the fine, Dowling said.
Discipline of a still-unidentified employee or employees is "certainly something that will be considered," said James A. Forde, county health services director. "That will depend on what I find" as part of a separate county investigation of the case, he continued.
In the past year, inspectors from the state Health Services Department have fined the hospital $30,000 for violations that include placing unwarranted restraints on a patient, leaving an invalid woman in a bath where she drowned, failing to properly monitor a double-amputee who fell from his bed and later died of heart problems, and accidently breaking a patient's arm.
The 323-bed hospital is under investigation by the county grand jury and the state auditor-general at the request of Assemblyman Larry Stirling (R-San Diego).
Forde defended the general quality of care at the facility. "Despite these incidents--and there's no question they have occurred--on the whole, Edgemoor provides very good care . . . and I think you'll find a number of people in the community who will say the very same thing."
He added, "I'm not making excuses for some of the things that have happened. These are very caring people out there who deal with some very difficult cases."