Product liability lawsuit filed as a result of a hospital prescription error

Eric Saiontz

By Eric Saiontz
Posted December 19, 2007


Two weeks ago we wrote about hospital medication errors which cause serious injuries for thousands of Americans each year. We pointed to the recent overdose of actor Dennis Quaid’s newborn twins, who were given a dose of blood thinner by a Los Angeles hospital which was 1,000 times more than the amount prescribed. The actor and his wife have now filed a lawsuit as a result of the prescription error, but the defendant is not the hospital who made the mistake, but rather the manufacturer of the drug.

The Quaid lawsuit was filed against Baxter Healthcare, the maker of heparin, which is the blood thinner given to the twins at a massive dose. The lawsuit claims that heparin labels are “unreasonably dangerous,” as both the smaller doses intended for infants and larger doses are contained in similar vials with nearly identical labels. This could lead to confusion by nurses and hospital staff who administer the drug.

The product liability lawsuit does not name Cedar-Sinai Medical Center as a defendant, even though the hospital admitted that pharmacy technicians mistakenly placed the higher concentration heparin where the pediatric drugs are kept and the nurses failed to double check the dosage. The hospital has already implemented a series of safeguards to ensure that a similar incident does not happen again, and the Quaids, who indicate that the children are now doing fine, said that they initiated the lawsuit in an attempt to prevent future heparin errors.

The mistakes made at Cedar-Sinai were not the first issue with heparin being improperly administered. According to a 2002 study by United States Pharmacopei, heparin is one of the top five drugs most commonly associated with medication errors in hospitals. Together with insulin, morphine, potassium chloride and warfarin, heparin is one of five drugs which account for about 28% of all hospital prescription errors.

In 2006, a heparin prescription error at an Indianapolis hospital resulted in the death of three children. After that, Baxter Healthcare changed the packaging of heparin to include a red label which needs to be torn off before the thinner can be used. However, the vials are all still marked with similar blue labels that could lead to confusion, and Baxter failed to recall the large-dosage vials and repackage the drug.

While it appears that the Quaid twins have fortunately avoided a serious injury as a result of the prescription mistake, in many cases such errors have devastating consequences.


The medical malpractice lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. investigate potential lawsuits nationwide for injuries caused by prescription errors. If you, a friend or family member have suffered permanent injury as a result of a preventable mistake, request a free consultation.

2 Comments • Add Your Comments

  • Joan Lewis says:

    When I saw the first mentioned of the Denns Quaid issue I believe I could not go on with my life.For three years I have researched another drug that totally disabled my daughter. She has lost her retirement, job as an NICU nurse, and had to sell her show horses at a terrible lossI (Somethng she had worked toward for many years) Also had to sell her farm that she and I ( her mother 75 yrs.old) built together, Her cobra expired so she has thousands of medical bills.
    She has disability from her hospital and they are always telling her to go back to work, Our government even denied disabiulity although she was on a walker-all this and she was 44 years old with a great future ahead of her. There are thousands of women like her.Please tell me why, why, why is it because we do not have as much money as Dennis Quaid????? Now she is 47 and wants to go back to work but needs help to get back.
    Where is the justice,?????????I wrote a Senator and said if just one person in the public eye had a problem with this drug we would hear plenty and those that lost everything would get help. Is it impossible for the medical community to take action ONLY when someone well known is affected?.

    Posted on December 21, 2007 at 10:52 am

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