Actor Dennis Quaid said Thursday that he was still considering filing a lawsuit against Cedars-Sinai Medical Center over the treatment of his two children, who last year were given a massive medication overdose at the hospital.
"We haven't brought any kind of suit against Cedars . . . because we want them to do the right thing. We're still waiting, although time is running short for us," Quaid said to the annual meeting of the Assn. of Health Care Journalists.
Quaid said he wants the Los Angeles hospital, one of the nation's most prestigious, to take the lead in improving patient safety.
He has championed that cause since his newborn twins were given 1,000 times the recommended dosage of the blood thinner heparin while hospitalized at Cedars last year. The children bled heavily, but were given an antidote and have recovered.
Quaid was critical of what he said was the hospital's reluctance to implement a bar code system to scan all medication before it is administered to patients. Health experts have recommended the practice to ensure the right drug and dose are being administered.
"They have a bar code system in every checkout stand of every supermarket in the country," Quaid said. "How could it be so complicated, and so expensive?"
Richard Elbaum, a spokesman at Cedars-Sinai, said the hospital is considering a bar code system or some other kind of automated protocol. The hospital, however, has not made a decision on a specific approach, nor could it say when such a system would be put in place.
Quaid said his experience had shaken his faith in the medical system. "I'd never allow a friend or a family member ever to be in a hospital alone."
Quaid has launched a foundation to promote patient safety. Its website, www.thequaidfoundation.org, invites victims of medical errors to submit their stories.
Quaid cited a 1999 report released by the Institute of Medicine estimating that 100,000 people die each year in the United States from preventable hospital error.
"That would be the equivalent of one commercial airline crash every day of every year. And who can stand for that?" Quaid said.