Actor Dennis Quaid and his wife Kimberly Buffington filed a lawsuit in December 2007 against Baxter Healthcare Corporation, claiming the drug maker was negligent when packaging different doses of the same drug in similar packaging. Both heparin and the lower dose version, hep-lock are packaged in similar vials with blue backgrounds and very small print on both labels.
Quaid’s newborn twins, who were hospitalized for staph infections, were both administered multiple near fatal dose of the blood thinner Heparin at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles last November. Zoe Grace and Thomas Boone were given 10,000 units of Heparin, rather than the 10 units they were prescribed. Babies typically get Heparin in their IV catheters to prevent clotting because their IV lines are so tiny. It’s necessary for the babies to survive.
In 2006, a similar incident in Indiana involving 6 newborns which resulted in the death of 3 babies, motivated Baxter to redesign the packaging and issue a warning to hospitals. There were also at least two other incidents in 2001 involving infants, both of which recovered. What Baxter didn’t do was recall the old stock that was sitting in hospitals all over the country, including Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles
Quaid and his wife are in the process creating a foundation to fight the epidemic of hospital errors. Quaid told 60 Minutes, he hoped that Cedars-Sinai would also take a lead in fighting hospital errors.
In an interview with “60 Minutes,” Baxter executive Debra Bello explained in an interview with “60 Minutes”, “the product was safe and effective, and the errors were preventable and due to failures in their system,”
The argument could be made that it’s not Baxter’s fault because they changed the labeling. The argument could be made that it’s not the nurse’s fault because the packaging was so similar, you couldn’t tell the difference. The argument could be made that it’s not the pharmacy’s fault because they couldn’t tell the difference between the adult dosage and the infant dosage because the print on the label was so small . The argument could be made that mistakes happen. The argument could be made that Pharmaceutical Companies and hospitals won’t take steps to correct those mistakes until someone files a lawsuit and it hurts them in their pocketbooks.