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Hospital fined over heparin blunder


A hospital in the US has been fined £12,500 for giving overdoses of a blood thinner to three children including the newborn twins of actor Dennis Quaid.

The California Department of Public Health fined Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles – and 10 other hospitals – for violations that caused or were likely to cause “serious injury or death to patients”.

Richard Elbaum, a spokesman for Cedars-Sinai, said the hospital had co-operated with state investigators and intends to pay the fine.

The move comes two months after the state issued a 20-page report blaming the hospital for giving Quaid’s premature twins and another unidentified baby 1,000 times the intended dosage of heparin in November.

While all three children recovered, two needed to be administered with a drug that reverses the effects of heparin.

The hospital has since apologised to the patients’ families and said it has taken steps to provide more training to staff and review all policies and procedures involving high-risk medications.

The preventable mix-up occurred because a pharmacy technician stored the higher heparin doses in the wrong place and a nurse who administered the drug to the babies failed to verify the amount.

After the error, Quaid and his wife, Kimberly, sued the drug’s manufacturer Baxter Healthcare, accusing the company of negligence in packaging different doses of the product in similar vials with blue backgrounds.

Copyright © PA Business 2008


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