December 2, 2011

A 23-month-old child with congenital defects was brought by her parents from Texas to the well-regarded transplant center, the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, for major surgery during which her liver, pancreas, and small bowel were transplanted during December, 2009. The child was initially sent home but had to return to the hospital in February, 2010 due to an infection. Her infection affected her kidneys, requiring that she be put on dialysis. The blood thinner heparin was used in her dialysis treatment (heparin is used during surgery and during kidney dialysis to prevent the clotting of blood in IV lines; too much heparin can lead to internal bleeding, which can be fatal).

The young girl’s heparin pump was set incorrectly, causing the child to receive almost ten times the appropriate amount of heparin for five hours. The overdose of heparin caused severe brain bleeding, leading to the little girl’s death two days later.

The surviving parents have filed a medical malpractice claim for their daughter’s  death and their own emotional injuries. Nebraska currently has a $1.75 million cap on medical malpractice damages, which may be challenged by this medical malpractice case.

Heparin Mishaps In Children

Perhaps the best known heparin mishap case involving children occurred in 2007, when actor Dennis Quaid’s twin newborns were given 1,000 times the correct dosage of heparin at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in California, nearly causing their deaths. Quaid helped raise awareness regarding the use of heparin in children, including testifying before Congress and suing the manufacturer of heparin claiming that the packaging was too similar between the adult dosages and pediatric dosages that could lead to administering the wrong dosages of heparin to children.

Prior to the Quaids’ case, three of six premature babies who were overdosed with heparin in a hospital in Indianapolis during September, 2006, died from the consequences of the overdoses. Two years later,  14 neonatal intensive care infants in a Texas hospital were given heparin overdoses, and two of the babies later died. These, and other heparin mishaps in children, led the U.S. Commission in 2008 to report that the packaging of heparin mainly for adult use may lead to problems with its use in pediatric cases. Some hospitals have stopped using heparin in pediatric care due to the risks and the availability of substitutes, while other hospitals have instituted greater safeguards when using heparin.


If you or a family member have suffered bad consequences due to the use of heparin, you may have a claim for medical malpractice for your injuries. Visit our website or call us toll free (800-295-3959) to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state to help find answers to your medical malpractice questions.

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