It was reported last month that 14 babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at a Corpus Christi hospital received overdoses of the pediatric version of the blood thinner heparin. The error in the dosage of the medicine – used to flush intravenous lines to prevent blood clots from forming – was discovered by hospital nurses who noticed abnormalities in lab tests. The hospital discontinued using heparin immediately and gave newborns who needed it different medications. It is unclear how much over the recommended dose was given to the 14 babies. The hospital has a standard dose for newborns. The error is believed to have happened in the pharmacy when the medicine was mixed. Two of the babies have been released since the discovery was made and the others are being monitored carefully. Hospital staff will report the incident to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, an independent, nonprofit agency that accredits and certifies more than 15,000 hospitals in the United States.
As you know, in November 2007, actor Dennis Quaid’s newborn twins were at the center of a near-fatal drug mix-up in which they were administered 1,000 times the normal dose of heparin. Relating to his experience, Quaid told 60 Minutes:
We all have this inherent thing that we trust doctors and nurses, that they know what they’re doing. But this mistake occurred right under our noses, that the nurse didn’t bother to look at the dosage on the bottle. It was ten units that our kids are supposed to get. They got 10,000. And what it did is, it basically turned their blood to the consistency of water, where they had a complete inability to clot. And they were basically bleeding out at that point.
The Quaid incident has gotten a great deal of media attention and has helped put in focus a most serious problem. The well-respected actor has testified before congressional committees and is working hard to bring the safety issue to the public’s attention. The family’s experience has totally changed Quaid’s opinion on such things as the court system and federal preemption. He now sees the need to keep the state courts open for victims. Hopefully, Congress will take the necessary steps to make that a reality.
Source: Associated Press
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