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Quaids Discuss Twins Near Death from Heparin on 60 Minutes

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, March 14, 2008 11:57 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death, Defective Drugs, Heparin, Blood-Thinners, Drug Recalls

Dennis Quaid and his wife, Kimberly speak to 60 Minutes about the overdose of heparin that nearly killed their newborn twinis.


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Speaking beyond his own family’s ordeal with the blood-thinning drug heparin that nearly killed his newborn twins, actor Dennis Quaid and his wife Kimberly will tell 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft on Sunday March 16,  that medical errors kill as many as 100,000 a year.

Last November the newborn Quaid twins, Thomas Boone and Zoe Grace were mistakenly given a massive dose of heparin when technicians at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles grabbed the wrong vial made by Baxter International.

The twins were supposed to receive Hep-lock to clear IV lines of any clots in pediatric patients.  The blue vials of the lower dose heparin (Hep-lock) are just a shade different from the higher adult dose called heparin.

The babies each received two doses at a one-thousand times higher amount than intended.

It caused the infants, who were in the hospital for a suspected infection, serious hemorrhaging.

"Our kids are bleeding from everyplace that they've punctured…They were working on Boone, whose belly button would not stop bleeding…blood squirted across the room…. It was blood everywhere," recalls Quaid who says "It was a life-and-death situation." 

What’s worse is that hospital didn’t call the Quaids when they had a problem. The couple only found out when they visited the next morning and were met by the hospital’s lawyers.

Thomas and Zoe recovered from their near death experience and are fine now, Quaid says.

Since his family’s experience, Quaid wants to speak out about medical mistakes, something he was unaware of and feels other Americans may be as well.

I've come to find out, there are 100,000 people a year killed...in hospitals by medical mistakes," he tells Kroft. "It’s bigger than AIDS. It’s bigger than breast cancer. It’s bigger than automobile accidents and yet, no one seems to be really aware of the problem," says Quaid.  

The Quaids are suing Baxter International over the labeling issue which they say in their complaint should have been fixed when a similar incident in Indiana killed three infants.  Baxter redesigned the heparin labels after the Indiana deaths, but the Quaid twins received heparin from old vials still in hospital storage rooms that were not part of the redesigned label.

The manufacturer should have also issued a recall Dennis Quaid tells Kroft.

“They recall toasters, trucks. They recall dog food that came from China last year. But they don’t recall medicine that kills people if you give it in the wrong dosage. We think it’s wrong.”   

“Because the product was safe and effective, and the errors, as the hospital had acknowledged, were preventable and due to failures in their system,” Debra Bello with Baxter explains the company did not issue a recall.

If they win their lawsuit the Quaids say they plan to set up a foundation to search for remedies for simple avoidable human medical errors.

Estimates are that there are eight times as many patients injured by medical malpractice than ever file a lawsuit. 

A recent U.S. Department of Justice review of cases in 2001 finds that punitive awards are only given to plaintiffs in 4.9 percent of cases.  The average payout when a case does go to trial was $461,524 according to Public Citizen.

Caps on medical malpractice cases, voted on by citizens or put into effect by state lawmakers under “tort reform” deter many law firms from taking these expensive cases to trial. 

The nonprofit Center for Justice  & Democracy talks about other MythBusters and the importance of the civil justice system. #


1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by jane miller
Sunday, March 16, 2008 7:30 PM EST

I am a survivor of 2 medical malpractices;
1. 1983 exploratory surgery where they took out my spleen, appendix, large sections of my colon and nothing was wrong with any of these organs. I ended up at the Cleveland Clinic where they saved my life. I have a very rectal disease and they did surgery to repair it, but due to the malpractice surgery I have lived for 25 years with a right colectomy, chronic pain etc. due to MAJOR MALPRACTICE.
2. Due to pain/inflammation I was put on Vioxx and at age 42 I had a brain lesion due to the Vioxx. Please let me know if your foundation can be of any help to me. Thanks. I am all to familiar with the mistakes made be the present medical industry/businesses. Please help any way you can to prevent others from going through what I did. Thanks Jane Miller 18004570345 my work #.

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