The twin sister of a newborn who died at a Corpus Christi, Texas hospital, has died following an overdose of the blood-thinner Heparin.
Twins, Kay Lynn and Keith Garcia were among 14 babies receiving a dosage up to 100 times the recommended level of the anti-coagulant while in the neonatal intensive care unit.
"We know for sure, we know absolutely for sure, that there were 14 babies who got the concentrated heparin," says hospital spokeswoman, Sherry Carr-Deer to CNN.
She said there were three other babies in the unit when the higher doses were given, making 17 in all, but it wasn't clear whether they received the drug.
12 newborns remain in stable condition in the neonatal intensive care, while one is in critical condition. All may have received a overdose of Heparin, although the exact dose administered remains subject to investigation. Two other babies have been released from the hospital.
Keith died early Tuesday. Kay Lynn died Wednesday afternoon. It has not been determined if Heparin led to the death of the Garcia babies, who were born one month premature, and reportedly had difficulty breathing at first.
The 17-year-old parents have received a temporary restraining order that requires the hospital to preserve all medical records related to the infants' hospital stay. Under the court order, the hospital must also preserve any unused Heparin from the batch given the infants.
A news release, issued Wednesday before Kay Lynn died, said that the attending neonatologist could not identify any adverse effects from the drug in any of the newborns.
Bob Patterson is the attorney who has been retained by the family.
He tells local news that the twins were born at Christus Spohn Hospital Alice on July 1. They were transferred to Christus Spohn Hospital South because it provides acute care in the neonatal unit. Patterson says the twins began exhibiting symptoms of an infection after their transfer.
Hospital spokeswoman Carr-Deer says an investigation is ongoing into how the overdosing occurred at the hospital pharmacy. The drug was given on Friday, July 4th as part of a normal IV flush to prevent blood clots from forming.
Two pharmacy staffers have taken a voluntary leave from the pharmacy.
An autopsy on Keith has been performed, but the hospital has declined to release the results.
The case is similar to the accidental overdosing, last November, of the twins of actor Dennis Quaid who, at 12-days-old, survived an adult dose of Heparin 1,000 times the normal dose. Quaid took his cause to Capitol Hill and to 60 Minutes to bring to light preventable medical errors that injure at least 100,000 Americans a year.
In the case of Heparin, made by Baxter International, the 10,000-unit label and 10-unit bottle had similar blue labels, one slightly darker than the other. Baxter has since increased the size of the label and added a red warning label to the adult dose vial.
Heparin is also the drug that’s been the focus of a national recall because of a contaminant introduced somewhere in the manufacturing process. Baxter’s Heparin is made in China from the raw ingredient obtained from pig intestines obtained from local Chinese suppliers.
Allen Vaida of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, told ABCs, Good Morning America that a system of bar coding in place in many hospitals has the potential to cut down on human errors.
Patterson says a lawsuit has not been filed but the couple is “just trying to find out what happened.” #