Each year at least 1.5 million Americans are injured – and 15,000 die – after receiving the wrong medication or an incorrect dose, says the federal Institute of Medicine. Such incidents have more than doubled in the past decade. Causes include pharmacists stocking drugs improperly, nurses not double-checking to make sure they are dispensing the proper medication, illegible handwriting by doctors, and similarities between names of different drugs.
In the incident involving Dennis Quaid’s 2-week old twins, they were given 1,000 times the intended dosage of the blood thinner Heparin at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, one of the top hospitals in the country, which has called it a “preventable error.” The babies were supposed to have received 10 units per millimeter of the anticoagulant to keep their IVs from clotting, but instead were given 10,000 units per millimeter.
This case is similar to a situation that occurred at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis last year when three premature babies died when they were also given 1000 times the strength of Heparin than they should have received. That mistake occurred because a pharmacy technician had mistakenly put the more concentrated dose of the drug in a location designated for less concentrated dose and the nurse, accustomed to only one dose being available, assumed the dose was 10 units.
After the Indiana incident, manufacturer Baxter Healthcare Corp. began repackaging Heparin to make the different doses more distinct. Cedars-Sinai was reportedly still using the old vials. The Quaid twins were treated with a drug that reverses Heparin’s effects. The fortunate result for the Quaid twins illustrates that sometimes meritorious medical malpractice cases arise not from the initial medical error, which error might be explainable and correctable, but from the failure of the doctor or hospital to recognize the error and to correct it. Sometimes, unfortunately, it appears that a doctor’s unwillingness to admit to a mistake can compound the initial mistake.
If you or someone that you know has been injured as a result of a doctor’s or hospital’s error, consider your legal alternatives and contact Levine & Slavit in Long Island or New York. For 50 years spanning 3 generations, the personal injury lawyers at Levine & Slavit have handled medical malpractice cases in New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and surrounding areas, obtaining results for satisfied clients.