Quaids: Babies' overdose double what they were told


Dennis Quaid and his wife say they were outraged to learn from a state health investigation that overdoses of blood thinner given to their newborn twins were double the amount that officials of prestigious Cedars-Sinai Medical Center had told them were administered.

A report released Wednesday by the California Department of Public Health conflict with the hospital's initial report that the children each received one vial containing 10,000 units per milliliter of heparin instead of the common dosage of 10 units per milliliter. The report found that the children each actually received two of the vials.

"We find it outrageous and totally unacceptable that we are learning for the first time... exactly what transpired," the actor and his wife, Kimberly, said in a statement released through their attorney, Susan E. Loggans of Chicago.

"We were told by upper Cedars-Sinai administration that our children had received only one 10,000-unit dose of heparin when in fact they had received two 10,000-unit doses over an 8-hour period that we now know of. The hospital's lack of candor has left us with the uneasy feeling that we may never know the whole story," the statement said.

The hospital has previously issued an apology to the patients' families and said it has taken step to provide more training to staff and review all policies and procedures involving high-risk medication.

Loggans said Thursday that there were no immediate plans to add the hospital to a lawsuit against the heparin manufacturer who supplied the drug.

The hospital has acknowledged errors and the lawsuit contends confusing dosage packages were to blame.

"The thrust of their efforts is on the packaging," she said of the Quaids. "We're trying to get at the heart of the cause."

The state report describes the cases of three, unidentified patients. All recovered, but two needed a drug that reverses the effects of heparin.

The Quaid family's representatives previously confirmed the newborns' involvement. The twins, born Nov. 8 to a surrogate mother, were at Cedars-Sinai for treatment of an infection.

The 20-page report said the hospital overdosed three children with heparin, a high-risk medication used to prevent clotting in intravenous tubes, on Nov. 18.

It found that the mishandling of the drug put pediatric patients in "immediate jeopardy," meaning it has caused, or were likely to cause, "serious injury or death to the patients who received the wrong medication." The report faulted the hospital for its "deficient practices" in administrating the drug.

Cedars-Sinai's chief medical officer, Michael L. Langberg, said in a statement that the state's review confirmed the hospital's own internal findings about the error and that the hospital had cooperated fully with the investigation.

The investigation also found the hospital did not adequately educate staff about the safe use of heparin and that nurses and pharmacy technicians did not check labels on the vials and did not keep adequate records of when it was used.

The lapses began when two pharmacy technicians mistakenly delivered 100 vials of the high-concentration heparin to the pediatric unit.

The Quaids have sued Baxter Healthcare Corp., the Illinois-based makers of heparin, accusing the firm negligence in packaging different doses of the product in similar vials with blue backgrounds. In February, Baxter Healthcare Corp. sent a letter warning health care workers to carefully read labels on the heparin packages to avoid a mix-up.