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Premature Babies Die After Blood Thinner Overdose

September 19, 2006|From the Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Lena Nelson had looked forward to buying dolls and other presents for her first granddaughter, who was born prematurely last week. Instead, she was planning Monday for the girl's funeral.

D'myia Sabrina Nelson and another premature baby girl, Emmery Miller, died Saturday after they received an adult dose of a blood thinner at Methodist Hospital.

Four other babies were given overdoses of the drug. Three were hospitalized in critical but stable condition Monday at Methodist Hospital, said spokeswoman Jo Ann Klooz. The fourth was in critical condition at Riley Hospital for Children and continued to suffer from ill effects of the drug, she said.

Hospital officials said the overdoses were the result of human and procedural error and that their hearts go out to the families, but Nelson said that doesn't ease her pain.

"They couldn't give me enough apologies for what they have done," she said. "She was just taken away from us."

Heparin, often used in premature children to prevent blood clots that could clog IV tubes, arrives at the hospital in pre-measured vials. The vials are placed in a computerized drug cabinet by pharmacy technicians.

When nurses need to administer the drug, they retrieve it from a specific drawer, which then locks again.

Sam Odle, chief executive of Methodist and Indiana University hospitals, said a pharmacy technician with more than 25 years of experience accidentally took the wrong dosage from inventory and stocked it in the drug cabinet in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Nurses, accustomed to only one dosage of Heparin being available, then administered the wrong dose. The adult and infant doses have similar packaging, officials said.

Odle announced stricter procedures Monday at the three hospitals that make up Clarian Health Partners -- Methodist, Riley and Indiana University -- to prevent such accidents in the future.

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