Monday, August 25, 2008

The Quaid Family Tragedy

Many of you may have watched 60 Minutes last night. It was a repeat of a story first aired last spring and chronicled the harrowing experience of the Quaid Family (click here for video). Dennis Quaid, the actor, and his wife's newborn twins were accidentally overdosed on Heparin in a California hospital. The babies survived the ordeal, but the Quaids are speaking out about preventable medical errors.

MITSS posted to the 60 Minutes blog last spring, and we'd like to reaffirm our response to the story here:

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Quaid family. Medical errors and bad outcomes are a huge problem in healthcare demanding urgent attention by hospitals, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, insurers, regulatory agencies, patients and their families, and everyone else involved. We must all work together to come up with effective solutions -- there is far too much at stake. In the interests of balance and fairness, 60 Minutes should have included the many organizations involved in heroic efforts all over the country in terms of prevention. Still, little attention has been paid to the devastating emotional toll taken on patients, family members, and care providers. We are a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting everyone impacted by a bad medical outcome. Even in the safest of systems, things can and do go wrong. Errors occur at a huge financial cost to the system, but let's not ignore the human cost on both sides of the equation.

It wasn't clear from the piece, but it didn't appear that Dennis and his wife were offered any emotional support following their event. Their anger and distress were apparent as it is with anyone who contacts MITSS. Emotional support needs to be "hard wired" into the system when anything goes wrong, for patients as well as clinicians. It's simply the right thing to do.

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