Dennis Quaid on Campaign to End Medical Mistakes

In 2007, actor Dennis Quaid’s infant twins suffered a <"">heparin overdose at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Fortunately, the children recovered in that case. Now, the actor is working to end medical mistakes.

According to USA Today, the actor noted that hospital mistakes might never make general news and the public is unaware, adding that some 100,000 people die in the United States annually due to medical errors, said USA Today. Because the deaths are spread across thousands of facilities nationwide, “where people die anyway,” Quaid said, “It doesn’t get the same type of attention,” wrote USA Today. Quaid maintains the near-tragedy in his family making news represents the exception not the rule.

Dennis and Kimberly Quaid recently settled their highly publicized heparin lawsuit with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. According to a prior Los Angeles Times article, the Quaid’s settled for $750,000 over a serious—potentially deadly—heparin dosing error last year, citing court papers filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The newborn twins—Thomas Boone and Zoe Grace—were dosed with 1,000 times the recommended does of the blood thinner.

The Wall Street Journal noted that a lawsuit was not brought against Cedars-Sinai and that Quaid had said that while he was not looking to sue the hospital, he hoped it would implement measures to improve patient safety.

The dosing error made by nurses at Cedars-Sinai landed the babies in critical condition and with the potential to bleed out, said the LA Times, which also said that although the hospital was not sued, it was described in legal paperwork as “potential defendant.” According to the LA Times piece, Cedars-Sinai hospital “officials have cited at least three safety lapses that led to the overdoses”; the Wall Street Journal also stated that an internal inquiry at the Cedars-Sinai revealed the incident involved three separate safety lapses.

Heparin is a blood thinner, and a vital drug used in surgery, dialysis, and to prevent blood clots in the bedridden. Other drugs thin blood, but do not work as quickly as heparin, and their effects are not as easily reversed. Baxter International manufactures about half of the multi-dose heparin vials used in the US.

Quaid said he is a “front man” to improve patient care and is seeking “safe practices” that include hand-washing, bar code technology to match medications to patients, wrote USA Today. The Quaids created the Quaid Foundation, which merged with the Texas Medical Institute of Technology, a research group based in Austin, said USA Today. “My mission today is to drive awareness … awareness of both the harm and the opportunity to save countless lives,” Quaid said, quoted USA Today.

Quaid also produced the documentary, Chasing Zero: Winning the War on Healthcare Harm, which will be airing April 22 at the Global Patient Safety Summit in Nice, France; Quaid is scheduled as that event’s keynote speaker, said USA Today, which added that the documentary will air on the Discovery Channel on April 24, May 1, and May 8. Quaid also wrote an article published in the March issue of the Journal of Patient Safety, “Story Power: The Secret Weapon.” “I never imagined a couple of years ago that I would be reading medical journals,” Quaid said, let alone writing for them, reported USA Today.

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