Posted on Apr 06, 2010
A life-saving drug, Heparin, may have been unintentionally, yet fatally administered to a 2-year old patient being treated by a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.

But this is not an isolated incident.  There have been several death and injurious occurrences as a result of Heparin being administered improperly in the past.  Just a few years ago, the drug was also spotlighted for its misuse.  Hollywood star, Dennis Quaid, had a sobering close-call when his twin infants were supplied with the drug improperly and to the point that they almost lost their lives.

Typically, the drug is a blood thinner that is given intravenously.  It is most commonly used by patients requiring feeding tubes or dialysis treatment.  It is also frequently administered during many surgical procedures, various operations, and even to prematurely born babies.

Officials suspect that the young toddler, Almariah, may have died because the levels of Heparin she was receiving were not being monitored properly for almost five hours.  The little girl had several health problems and was receiving dialysis-blood treatment for failing kidneys-when this accident occurred.  Heparin is unlike many drugs because when dosed in toxic levels the drug can take an immediate, and visible toll on one's body, making it easy to see that the patient is suffering. 

So why Almariah's Heparin poisoning wasn't immediately responded to is unclear.  The hospital has made public the incident and is investigating the situation.  Hospital officials estimate that it will require about 2 months worth of investigation before they can arrive at a definite answer.  Additionally, the hospital has taken the necessary precautions to ensure that another incident of this nature does not occur ever again.

One health care evaluative organization, The Joint Commission, has always made known that certain drugs can be administered to infants and children safely, but are intended for adult use only.

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James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.