Actor Dennis Quaid and his wife, Kimberly, filed suit Tuesday against a manufacturer of the blood thinner heparin, saying the product's...
LOS ANGELES — Actor Dennis Quaid and his wife, Kimberly, filed suit Tuesday against a manufacturer of the blood thinner heparin, saying the product’s labeling and packaging contributed to an overdose given to their newborn twins last month.
The suit says only that the Quaid twins “suffered and will continue to suffer injuries of a pecuniary nature” and seeks more than $50,000 in damages.
The twins, Thomas Boone and Zoe Grace, received 1,000 times the intended dosage of the blood thinner Nov. 18 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Nurses mistakenly administered a dose with a concentration of 10,000 units per milliliter instead of 10 units per milliliter, the hospital has acknowledged. Another child also was affected by the error.
Heparin is used as a flush to prevent blood clots in intravenous lines.
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Between 2001 and 2006, there were more than 16,000 reports of heparin errors attributed to an improper dose or quantity administered, according to U.S. Pharmacopeia, which operates an Internet-based medication-error and adverse-drug-reaction reporting program. In nearly 650 cases, patients were injured and 12 might have contributed to patients’ deaths.
Also Tuesday, Cedars-Sinai outlined what went wrong in the Quaid case and what it plans to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
In their suit, filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., the Quaids contend that Baxter Healthcare failed to recall the 10,000-unit vials of heparin even though the company knew that other infants had died as a result of similar medication errors. Three babies in Indiana died last year after nearly identical mistakes.
The lawsuit also faults Baxter for using shades of blue as the prominent background color on the label of the high concentration and the smaller one “when they knew that such packaging” could have caused fatal errors.
“The Quaids’ concern right at this moment is to bring to the attention of the public this dangerous condition,” said their lawyer, Susan Loggans.
Baxter is one of several companies that manufacture heparin. A spokeswoman for Baxter, based in Deerfield, Ill., declined to comment.
After the Indiana deaths, Baxter and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about the potential for errors involving the two products. In October, Baxter altered the label on vials with a concentration of 10,000 units per milliliter, changing the background color from blue to black, increasing the font size by 20 percent and adding a large “red alert” symbol, spokeswoman Erin Gardiner has said. Cedars-Sinai was using the old vials when the error involving the Quaid twins occurred.
After the overdose was discovered, the babies, who were born Nov. 8, were given a drug to reverse the effects of heparin, and they were moved to the neonatal intensive-care unit for observation. They have since gone home, Loggans said, adding, “The kids are doing great.”
Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.