SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — California’s medical board and Department of Public Health have been asked to investigate 17 doctors and eight hospitals involved in the illegal sterilizations of female prison inmates, based on a critical state audit released Thursday.

The auditor’s office recommended that those authorities investigate doctor and hospital practices in 39 cases where sterilizations were performed without inmates’ lawful consent.

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The cases will be referred to the department and medical board, said Liz Gransee, a spokeswoman for the federal court-appointed official who controls prison medical care. She said the investigations are confidential.

The 39 cases were among 144 between 2006 and last year in which inmates had tubal ligations or other procedures for the sole purpose of sterilizing them. Another 650 inmates had other medical procedures that could have resulted in sterilization.

Auditors found that nearly 30 percent of the tubal ligations and other sterilization procedures were performed without lawful consent.

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In 27 cases, the inmate’s doctor did not sign a required consent form saying the patient appeared mentally competent, understood the permanent effect and had waited at least 30 days and no more than 180 days to give the patient time to reconsider.

In 18 cases, there were potential violations in observing the waiting period. That included one case in which only 22 days elapsed between the time the inmate consented to the procedure and when the surgery was performed, and a second case in which 196 days passed.

Margarita Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the California State Auditor, said the 39 questionable sterilizations involved 17 doctors and eight hospitals. The sterilizations were performed by private doctors at hospitals outside the prisons, said Fernandez. Surgeries on prison inmates are typically performed at outside facilities.

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