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updated 5/20/2010 3:40:43 PM ET 2010-05-20T19:40:43

Nine hospitals in California face a combined $550,000 in penalties for endangering patients through medication errors, leaving sponges inside patients after surgery and other problems.

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Four of the hospitals fined are in San Diego County, with the rest in Alameda, San Bernardino, Marin, Orange and Riverside counties.

Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla was fined twice, a total of $125,000. In one instance, a surgeon performing a hip replacement reported discovering dried blood on an instrument being used on a patient.

A spokesman for the hospital said Thursday it was preparing a response.

Since 2007 when the fines were enacted as law, a combined $4.8 million in fines have been assessed, and $2.9 million have been collected.

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