Hospitals Fined $184K Over Worker Infections

January 15, 2021

Front-line workers in the nation’s hospitals often put their lives at risk treating patients with COVID-19. Healthcare organizations are responsible for taking steps to provide a safe workplace, but when workers do contract COVID-19 in the workplace, organizations also are responsible for reporting such cases. Two California hospitals are learning the fallout from allegedly not doing so.

State and local officials have fined two Kaiser Permanente Bay Area hospitals more than $184,000 in recent months for failing to report when employees were infected with COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.

Cal/OSHA fined the San Jose facility more than $85,000 in November after it kept quiet when one of its employees was hospitalized for a week with COVID-19 early in the pandemic

Santa Clara County officials fined that same hospital $43,000 this month for failing to report a deadly coronavirus outbreak that might have been caused by an inflatable holiday costume worn by an unknowingly infected staffer. The number of cases linked to that outbreak has reached 60 employees, and one staffer has died.

Santa Clara County officials said they learned of the outbreak in January after the Oakland-based hospital chain issued a press statement. They issued $1,000 fines for each of the initial 43 cases. Kaiser is responsible for the timely reporting of cases, the county said.

Cal/OSHA also fined Kaiser’s hospital in Antioch $56,000 in December after the hospital failed to immediately report that two employees were hospitalized with coronavirus in May and July, among other violations to maintain a safe work environment in the midst of the pandemic.

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