SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A Kaiser Permanente patient died after choking on food that he was not supposed to be eating, bringing to three the number of accidental patient deaths within a year at the same facility, the hospital and state health regulators said Thursday.
The 77-year-old man, whose name was not released, died in November 2004 after a nurse at the Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center mistakenly fed him a refrigerated meal, officials said.
A physician had ordered that the man, who was admitted for shortness of breath, should not be fed by mouth.
In a statement, Kaiser said it accepted "full responsibility" for the error and has added safeguards to prevent it from happening again.
Two other patients have died at the Santa Clara facility since then, after receiving the wrong dosage of medication.
On Christmas Eve last year, a 64-year-old stroke victim was given too much of an anti-clotting drug and died two days later.
In July, 12-year-old Josephine Frances Hart died after receiving a double dose of pneumonia medication.
The California Department of Health Services cited the facility in all three instances for being "deficient" in patient care, but did not find that the mistakes merited revocation of the hospital's license.
"All hospitals have unusual occurrences," Glenn Koike, a state health investigator, said Thursday. "If you close a hospital for two deaths, I don't think there would be a hospital in the state of California that would be in existence."
A citation does not carry a fine, and there are no limits to how many times a hospital can be cited, said health department spokesman Scott Vivona.
In the Kaiser cases, the hospital submitted a plan, which the state approved, to correct the problems, including requiring that nurses double-check medications and that food trays receive greater scrutiny.
Earlier this month, the Kaiser Permanente Santa Teresa Medical Center in San Jose was cited for a similar infraction.
Chemotherapy patient Christopher Robin Wibeto, 21, died in August, three days after a cancer-fighting drug intended for another patient was injected into his spine. The hospital now requires that three people -- a doctor, a nurse and a pharmacist -- verify that a patient is getting the correct medication.