Published January 10, 2008
LOS ANGELES – Dennis Quaid and his wife denounced the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center over a "lack of candor" about medical errors they believe caused their newborn twins to receive overdoses of a blood thinner.
The couple said they were particularly upset to learn from a state investigation that their babies were given dosages of heparin that were 2,000 times stronger than what was prescribed.
The report's findings 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 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 to the Los Angeles Times.
"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 steps to provide more training to staff and review all policies and procedures involving high-risk medication.
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 was 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 giving the drug.
A call to a hospital spokeswoman early Thursday was not immediately returned.
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 of 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 confusion.