As four children recover from a medicine mix-up, Methodist Hospital officials admit to previous Heparin overdoses. The six newborns that received overdoses of the blood thinning drug Heparin weren't the first to receive that kind of an overdose.
Hospital president Sam Odle says it happened in the pediatric intensive care unit of the hospital back in 2001. At that time, two patients received the wrong dose of the drug.
Jim and Chere Mayes say their son, 18-month-old Aaron Mayes, was one of those patients. The boy was given an adult dose of Heparin when he was being treated for brain cancer in 2001.
The Heparin was used on Aaron and another pediatric patient to keep their I-V lines from clogging. Aaron and the other child who was given a Heparin ovredose recovered after being given an antidote.
"These were larger children so they didn't have any ill effects from it," said Sam Odle, Methodist Hospital President and CEO. Methodist Hospital said it changed its policy after the 2001 incident to storing only the 10 unit dosage of the drug on the pediatric floor.
The parents of one of the children overdosed five years ago were assured by the hospital that steps were being taken to ensure the mistake was not repeated, but those steps didn't stop it from happening again. The hospital is prepared to compensate the families, but Indiana's Medical Malpractice Act severely limits recoveries--in this case the total maximum limit is $1,250,000 for injury or death, and $250,000 per occurrence of malpractice by the provider. Attorney Nathaniel Lee is representing one of the families. He is also considering a product liability action against the drug maker because of the similarity in the labeling of the adult and infant vials of Heparin, which can confuse the professionals who administer it.
UPDATE: Tragically, news comes that a third infant who was accidentally overdosed succumbed last night. That brings the death toll to three. Three other harmed infants have managed to survive.