Quaids sue drug maker over children's overdose

Marilyn Tennissen Dec. 5, 2007, 3:40pm

Actor Dennis Quaid and his wife Kimberly filed suit Dec. 4 against the manufacturer of heparin, claiming the drug maker's labeling and design were the cause of a massive overdose of their newborn twins, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Quaids' babies were given 1,000 times the intended dose of the blood thinner on Nov. 18 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

A nurse mistakenly administered heparin with a concentration of 10,000 units per milliliter instead of 10 units per milliliter, the Quaids' attorney told the Times. The medication is often used as a flush to prevent blood clots around intravenous catheter sites.

The Quaid children and another child also given the wrong dosage suffered no adverse health effects from the mishap.

In their suit, which was filed in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, the Quaids fault Baxter Healthcare Corp. for using similar background colors on the labels of both the high- and low-concentration vials of heparin, despite the possibility of confusion.

The suit also contends that Baxter knew that other infants had died as a result of similar errors involving heparin yet still did not recall the high-concentration vials.

"The Quaids' concern right this moment is to bring to the attention of the public this dangerous condition," said their lawyer, Susan E. Loggans. "They don't want to see another family go through what they did."

Baxter, which is based in Deerfield, Ill., would not comment on the suit because it had not been served. But spokeswoman Erin Gardiner said, "This is not a product issue. The issue here is about improper use of a product."

In October, Baxter altered the label on high-concentration heparin vials, changing the background color, increasing the font size and adding a "red alert" tear-off label, Gardiner said. Cedars-Sinai was still using the old vials when its errors occurred last month.

Baxter is one of several companies that make heparin.

The Quaids have not sued Cedars-Sinai. Loggans said they want to see what steps the hospital takes to prevent recurrences.

The hospital already has removed all heparin used for IV flushes from the pediatric unit and will instead use only a saline solution.

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