National Patient Safety Board Would Reduce Medication Errors, Say Celebrity Supporters

320px-Plane_crash_into_Hudson_River_%28crop%29.jpgThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the federal agency that reviews highway and aviation accidents and makes recommendations for safety regulations, could serve as a model for an entity to monitor patient safety, according to a number of celebrities and other advocates. A medical journal article co-authored by actor Dennis Quaid and airline pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberg III argues for the creation of such an entity to apply lessons of previous medication errors and other mistakes towards the prevention of future problems. They cite the NTSB’s success at recommending effective revisions to airline safety regulations.

In an article published in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Patient Safety, Quaid and Capt. Sullenberg join a medical doctor and an attorney in calling for creation of a safety board for patients. All four authors have experience as jet pilots, and all four have experience in aviation safety. Quaid additionally has endured a medical “near-death experience” with his twin children. They describe a “healthcare financing crisis” due in part to inefficient healthcare spending and waste, based on decisions made by corporate boards and administrators rather than doctors. They recommend adoption of “best practices” based on past experience, similar to the way the aviation industry has improved safety with the assistance of the NTSB.

The article shares the individual stories of the authors. Sullenberg became famous in January 2009 as the pilot of a US Airways flight out of New York City. When a flock of geese collided with the airplane and disabled its engines, Captain Sullenberg successfully landed the plane in the Hudson River, saving the lives of everyone on board. He says that the subsequent reports issued out of the NTSB’s investigation have had a vast impact on airline safety. Pilots can generally recite the events of the accident and the changes made as a result of the investigation. He proposes something similar for medicine.

Quaid is an actor famous for a number of roles, including astronaut Gordon Cooper in the 1983 film The Right Stuff. His interest in patient safety stems in large part from a medication error in 2007 that nearly cost the lives of his newborn twin children. When the twins were twelve days old, they developed an infection, and Quaid and his wife took them to a hospital in Los Angeles. Hospital staff administered the medication heparin, used to prevent blood clots, to both children. The packaging on the 10-unit strength vials was nearly identical to the 10,000-unit strength vials, and the hospital kept the high-concentration vials in the same area as the standard ones. The twins received the high-concentration doses by accident. Both children recovered, although Quaid says the full effects of the overdose could remain hidden for years. A similar mistake reportedly occurred a year earlier in Indianapolis, when six infants received similar overdoses. Three of those infants died as a result. Quaid and his wife sued the drug manufacturer, Baxter, over the incident.

The Maryland pharmacy error attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen can assist you if you have been injured by drugs prescribed or administered incorrectly. Contact us today online, or call our lawyers at (800) 654-1949 to see if you may recover damages.

More Blog Posts:

Electronic Prescriptions Help Doctors and Pharmacies Avoid Medication Errors, Prevent Fraud and Abuse, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer, May 31, 2012
Pharmacist Institutes Program of Double-Checking Discharge Papers, Cuts Hospital Pharmacy Errors to Near Zero, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer, February 8, 2012
Government Promotes Communication Between Doctors and Patients to Reduce Pharmacy Errors, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer, November 28, 2011
Photo credit: ‘Plane crash into Hudson River (crop)’ by Greg L [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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