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    Quaid Goes to Court over Babies' Health Scare

    His children are on the mend and Dennis Quaid is on the warpath against the maker of the drug that nearly killed his newborns.

    The actor and wife Kimberly filed a lawsuit in Chicago Tuesday accusing Baxter Healthcare Corporation of negligence in packaging the blood-thinning drug heparin.

    The Quaids' twins, Zoe Grace and Thomas Boone, were mistakenly given the wrong dosage and wound up in critical condition.

    "This is not a product issue. The issue here is about improper use of a product," said Baxter spokeswoman Deborah Spak, who declined to comment specifically on the suit because she said the company had yet to be served.

    "While we strive to clearly differentiate our products and dosages, no amount of differentiation will replace the value of clinicians carefully reviewing and reading a drug name and dose before dispensing and administering it," she said.

    The lawsuit alleges that Baxter is at fault because the 10-unit/milliliter and 10,000-unit/milliliter vials of the anticlotting drug have virtually identical labels. An exhibit included in the court papers shows the two similar-size vials side by side, each with a blue label. The most distinguishing feature is the color of the cap: The smaller concentration has a green top, the higher has a gray.

    The Quaids' suit says the company should have recalled the vials after other children died in following a nearly identical dosage mix-up.

    Zoe and Thomas, who were born via a surrogate on Nov. 8, appear to have recovered after a stint in the neonatal intensive care unit.

    "Everything looks good," said the family's attorney, Susan E. Loggans. The infants went home Tuesday.

    The Quaids' suit seeks more than $50,000 in damages, but Loggans insisted the case "isn't about money."

    Dennis, 53, and Kimberly, 35, decided to file the lawsuit, because they wanted to prevent other parents from suffering, Loggans said. The attorney said that three newborns died in an Indiana hospital from an excessive dosage of heparin just two months before the Quaids' health scare.

    In a Nov. 26 statement, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center acknowledged that three patients being treated intravenously had their IV catheters accidentally flushed with a 10,000-unit solution of heparin, rather than the proscribed 10-unit dose.

    "The error was identified by Cedars-Sinai staff, who immediately performed blood tests on the patients to measure blood-clotting function," Cedars-Sinai chief medical officer Dr. Michael Langberg said in a statement, declining to identify the patients by name.

    "This was a preventable error, involving a failure to follow our standard policies and procedures, and there is no excuse for that to occur at Cedars-Sinai," Langberg continued, noting that the three affected patients all recovered.

    Hours after the lawsuit was filed Tuesday, Cedars-Sinai issued a second statement detailing what went wrong with the Quaid babies on Nov. 18.

    The hospital also announced sweeping changes to its policy of handling medications in response to the accident. Among the reforms, the hospital will keep the higher concentration heparin "further sequestered in pharmacies" and all staff nurses and pharmacists have been retrained on "high-alert medication policies and practices."

    The Quaids have not signaled whether they plan to pursue any legal action against the hospital. In the couple's only statement since their medical nightmare began, they simply thanked fans last week for their "thoughts and prayers" and asked for "privacy at this difficult time."

    "The Quaids are very religious," said Loggans, "and they believe their children's recovery is a real miracle."

    (Originally published Dec. 4, 2007 at 2:05 p.m. PT.)

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