April 22nd, 2010
06:30 PM ET

360° Big Interview: Dennis Quaid speaks out

Program Note: Don't miss Anderson's discussion with Dennis Quaid on the chilling medical error that nearly killed his newborn twins and why he's speaking out about medical mistakes. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.


In our Big Interview Anderson talked to Dennis Quaid who has made it his mission to raise awareness about the risks of medical errors. In 2007, his newborn twins almost died as a result of a medical mistake at a hospital when they were given an accidental overdose of a blood thinner.

Quaid has produced a documentary called “Chasing Zero: Winning the War on Healthcare Harm,” which airs on the Discovery Channel on April 24. He hopes that by sharing his story he can help prevent medical accidents from happening to others.

On Thursday, during a presentation for the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare, Quaid described – in detail – the medical mistake that nearly killed his twins.

The incident occurred when his twins, Thomas Boone and Zoe Grace, were 12-days old. They were undergoing IV-antibiotic treatment for a staph infection at a hospital in Los Angeles, California.

The infants were supposed to receive 10 units of the blood thinner heparin they were prescribed, but they were given 10,000 units – that's 1,000 times the intended amount. The babies survived, "thanks to prayers," said Quaid, and are not expected to suffer any further damage.

When Quaid began investigating the incident he found that the bottles of high and low-dose Heparin looked very similar. Quaid also discovered that the similarity had led to other overdoses. Three other babies died as a result and three others were injured. Since then, the labels have changed, but Quaid and his wife, Kimberly, started the Quaid Foundation to help prevent medical mistakes from happening to others.

Find more information on the documentary here...

Filed under: Big Interview
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Sue R --Canton,Mi

    This is a serious problem. In most states the federal government does not require pharmacies to report error's. A lot of time's perscription's are filled by pharmacy tech's and are suppose to be checked by the pharmacist. The pharmacist does'nt have time check and people are given the wrong medicine. If their too slow ,,,they can lose their job's. This is just an example of so many things that are happening all the time. @JM,, You are right with your comment. you can only do so much. Hang in there. We need more people involved in the healthcare industry like you.

    April 22, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
  2. collin

    That's the goal of this documentary, not to blame or shame, but to inform the public of the dangers in the system of healthcare, and moreover to offer solutions to help reduce these needless deaths and injury. Steve Swenson at Mayo Clinic says "improvements in our systems to avoid the frailties of competent hard working staff". We're all human, and the mistakes we make often do not directly cost people their lives, but in healthcare this is decidedly different. The goal is never to blame those that work very hard to heal, the goal is to empower them with structures and systems to make mistakes VERY hard to commit, and to encourage a culture within that takes corrective action when it recognizes it's failings.

    April 22, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  3. Kirsten Verdi

    It baffles me how such errors happens. Too many people in the process are sleeping at the wheel!

    April 22, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
  4. JM

    I don't think that anyone could argue against virtue. I mean, who doesn't want the risk of medical errors to go down? Constantly blaming the workers of the health care industry and belittling them is no way to help reduce that risk. A more proactive approach to this problem would make for better reporting.

    I work in the health care industry and I don't know anyone, ANYONE who wants to make mistakes. Humans work in this industry, and I hate to break it to you, but HUMANS AREN'T PERFECT. In my area, the workforce is overworked and very often, underpaid, for the type of job required of them. But especially overworked. Patients are more aware because information is so accessible these days... and they are also more demanding. Couple that with an increasing base of knowledge required to work in the field... well you get the idea. This witch hunt against people working in the health care industry is driving professionnals to seek new horizons. Including myself. I love this job, but when 95% of your working hours are spent on double checking yourself, there is little time left for actual patient care.

    April 22, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  5. Merle Dunn

    I hope this documentary from Dennis Quaid does help to stop this medical mistake. I live near Dallas,Texas where I read about a
    toddler who had died from the same medical mistake. This child
    had major medical problems when born, but she was improving
    until the same medical mistake was made & she died. When I
    read about it I could not & still cannot see how a child would be
    given blood thinner in the first place. Apparently this mistake
    happens more often than anyone would expect, so I am glad
    this documentary is going to be available maybe it will stop these
    terrible mistakes.

    April 22, 2010 at 1:32 pm |