Dennis and Kimberly Quaid
Actor Dennis Quaid talked about the hospital error that almost cost the lives of his twins at the National Press Club Monday.
Zoe Grace And Thomas Boone nearly died after twice receiving an adult dose of the blood thinner, heparin, in the hospital three years ago.
Quaid told reporters he was struck by how the aviation industry handles errors compared to the medical industry. The private pilot says when a crash happens the information is public, but following a hospital or doctor mistake the public is largely kept in the dark.
An estimated 100,000 medical errors occur every year from a host of problems, a failure to diagnose, medication errors, doctor or nurse mistakes.
Quaid said “It doesn’t get the same type of attention.”
Largely because of his celebrity, his case did.
Zoe and Thomas
When the 10-day old twins were at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in November 2007 being treated for a staph infection, they were twice given an adult dose of the blood thinner heparin. The correct dose for an infant is 10 units. They each received an adult dose of 10,000 units, twice. Heparin is given to flush out the IV tubes and prevent clotting.
The boy and girl began bleeding out as their blood turned into the consistency of water, something Quaid and his wife saw when they walked into the children’s room. It took about 41 hours for the twins’ blood to begin clotting normally again. They have since fully recovered from the accident.
Promoting Patient Safety
Now Quaid and his wife, Kimberly, have become ambassadors of patient safety with the formation of the Quaid Foundation. After the Quaid twin incident, Cedars-Sinai initiated a bedside bar code system that matches medication with the patient.
The foundation has merged with the Texas Medical Institute of Technology (TMIT), an Austin, Texas-based research organization.
Quaid presented to reporters a new safety manual created by the National Quality Forum (NQF), a nonprofit organization that works on improving the quality of healthcare through setting national priorities and goals, endorses a national consensus standard for measuring and publicly reporting errors, and promoting national goals through education and outreach.
“It is time to make a call to action to encourage policy makers to tie the NQF’s ‘Safe Practices For Better Healthcare,’ to healthcare reform, challenge hospital leaders to adopt them, and ask the public to demand them,” said Quaid.
"My mission today is to drive awareness ... awareness of both the harm and the opportunity to save countless lives," Quaid told the luncheon audience reports USA Today.
When he was called upon to speak to Congress in May 2008, Quaid warned lawmakers not to remove the courts as a remedy to the 100,000 medical error deaths a year.
“Like many Americans, I believed that a big problem in our country was frivolous lawsuits. But now I know that the courts are often the only path to justice for families that are harmed by the pharmaceutical industry and medical errors.”
Baxter Healthcare Corp
Quaid and his wife sued Baxter Healthcare Corporation for not pulling vials of heparin, while it was fixing the similar looking labels on the adult and infant doses. The drug mix-up had already led to the 2006 deaths of other three other infants.
Baxter tried to throw out the Quaid lawsuit under “federal preemption,” which offers blanket immunity to drug and device makers citing approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Preemption is favored by the drug industry and device makers to avoid the cost of lawsuits.
Quaid told the House Oversight Committee that just because a drug has been approved by the FDA doesn’t mean it’s safe.
The Quaids have produced a documentary, “Chasing Zero:Winning the War on Healthcare Harm,” which will debut April 22 at the Global Patient Safety Summit in Nice, France and airs on the Discovery Channel April 24, May 1 and May 8.
Quaid also co-wrote an article in the March issue of the Journal of Patient Safety, "Story Power: The Secret Weapon."
Patient Safety Lapses
According to the NQF, Americans pay between $17 and $29 billion a year to cover the cost of patient safety lapses.
Healthgrades, the hospital grading association, reports that between 2005 and 2005, 247,662 patients died from potentially preventable problems.
And the Institute of Medicine estimates that 1.5 million patients suffer medications mistakes every year.
In its November 1999 report, "To Err Is Human," IOM calls medical errors the sixth leading cause of death among Americans.
It says that health care workers are not bad people, but good people working in a bad system. IOM called for a mandatory nationwide reporting system for medical errors, which has not happened. #