Med: Quaid Follow-Up

December 4, 2007

It’s been a few weeks since I first discussed the situation regarding the newborn twins of Dennis Quaid. To recap: They were given the wrong dosage of a blood thinner (heparin) that could have killed them. Though details are not being made available, the children are reportedly doing ok.

As I had mentioned, I had previously heard of this problem at the AMSA Conference here at UIC. Heparin and it’s low dosage variant Hep-lock (used to keep IV ports open) are packaged in nearly identical bottles. Despite my attempts, I was not actually able to find a picture of these–but I have seen them and they are very similar. And it now appears that Dennis Quaid wants to do something about it, as he is bringing a lawsuit against Baxter Healthcare Corp., the makers of Heparin.

Quoting the CNN article: “[The lawsuit] claims that Baxter Healthcare Corp., based in Deerfield, Illinois, was negligent in packaging different doses of the product in similar vials with blue backgrounds.”

And continues:

“The heparin was “unreasonably dangerous” as it was packaged and sold because both the small and large dosage vials had labels with blue backgrounds when the vials “should have been completely distinguishable (by) size and shape,” the lawsuit argued.”

Because I am entering into a profession that has been generally flooded with lawsuits, I feel like I’m preprogrammed to be against them; however, such is not the case here. This is not an isolated incident; rather, the lapse in judgment that led to these vastly different concentrations of medication receiving similar packaging has resulted in many documented medical errors–in Chicago, Indianapolis, and surely elsewhere.

What’s more, Baxter was perfectly aware that the packaging had caused these problems. Instead of changing the packaging and acknowleging some responsibility, however, they felt content with issuing a letter to health care workers telling them “to carefully read labels on the heparin packages to avoid a mix-up.”

I guess even the deaths of children aren’t enough to overcome the mighty dollar. And hey, recalls are expensive…and drug company execs have 3rd houses to buy.


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