Actor Dennis Quaid and his wife recently filed a product liability suit against drug manufacturer, Baxter Healthcare, after its drug nearly killed the Quads' twin newborns. After delivery, the twins were given a massive overdose of the drug heparin, a blood thinner, while in Cedars-Sinai Hospital on November 18, 2007. Instead of administering vials containing 10 units per milliliter, the hospital staff inadvertently gave the infants vials containing 10,000 units per milliliter — a dosage 1,000 times stronger than was intended. The hospital has admitted to this medication error.
The Quaids' lawsuit against Baxter maintains the drug manufacturer negligently packaged different doses of the product in substantially similar vials making it foreseeable for this type of mistake to occur. This was not the first time such a mistake has occurred with their drug. Three children were killed in Indianapolis last year as a result of a similar mistake.
Although the company had yet to receive a copy of the lawsuit, a spokesperson from Baxter said this is not product issue — the issue is improper product usage. The spokesperson went on say that while Baxter strives to differentiate their products and dosages, these efforts cannot replace the importance of clinicians carefully reviewing and reading the drug before administering it to the patient.
Based on its initial response, it appears Baxter' will defend this lawsuit by arguing they acted reasonably and this overdose was caused by the hospital staff. However, based on the legal principle of "proximate cause," the Quaids need not prove Baxter was the "sole cause" of the overdose as long as Baxter was "a" cause of the overdose. Consequently, the Quaids' will likely argue that had Baxter properly differentiated the packaging of its various heparin vials, thereby eliminating unnecessary confusion, the hospital staff would not have mistakenly administered the wrong dosage or medication error.
Fortunately, initial reports indicate Quaid children are now doing remarkably well. The Quaids' lawyer say the point of the lawsuit is not about money, but rather to prevent this type of mistake from happening again. Through this lawsuit, they hope Baxter will repackage their heparin vials in a safer manner and save other children from a potentially deadly fate.