Supplementing our February 29, 2008 post “Blood Thinner Heparin Tied To Several Deaths“, the actor Dennis Quaid appeared on “60 Minutes” last Sunday to reveal every parent’s nightmare: He and his wife almost lost their newborn twins last year at Cedar’s Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles due to a massive overdose of the blood thinner Heparin, manufactured by Baxter International.
The nurses were supposed to give the twins a dosage of “Hep-Lock”, a weak form of Heparin to keep IV lines open. Instead, they gave the twins Heparin in a dosage which Quaid described as “10,000 times the normal dosage”, causing a drug overdose which could have been fatal. Apparently the almost tragic mistake was caused by the very similar blue backgrounds on the vials of Hep-Lock and Heparin. Quaid said that “our kids were bleeding from everyplace they were punctured…it was blood everywhere.”
Shockingly, this same event occurred in Indianapolis a year earlier, which resulted in the deaths of three infants. Despite this fact, Baxter International, being sued by the Quaids in a multi-million dollar defective product lawsuit, did not change the colors of the two vials until after the Quaid twins incident–now, one vial is red and the other is blue, making a mistake by nurses much less likely.
Baxter blames the hospital staff and pointed out that the hospital “acknowledged that the errors were preventable and due to failures in their system.” Mr. Quaid is setting up a foundation to fund efforts to reduce medical errors. He noted: “We all have this inherent thing that we trust doctors and nurses, that they know what they’re doing. This mistake occurred right under their noses…the nurse didn’t bother to look at the dosage on the bottle…it was avoidable, completely avoidable.”
The next time our readers hear that there are too many lawsuits and there should be “tort reform”, as our president has tried to implement for 7 years, which would limit damages to no more than $250,000.00 in medical malpractice cases, perhaps the Quaid case will be a reminder why this idea should be soundly rejected as it has been in the past.