Heparin Overdose Lawsuits Likely After Texas Hospital Medication Error

Texas lawyers who represent the families of several infants given excessive doses of heparin at a Texas hospital last month, are gathering information and interviewing witnesses about the medication error in anticipation of filing heparin overdose lawsuits.

On July 6, 2008, administrators at Christus Spohn Hospital South in Corpus Christi, Texas discovered that a number of babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) were given doses of the blood thinner Heparin, which contained much higher concentrations than was appropriate. As many as 17 infants who were prescribed pediatric versions of the drug to flush intravenous lines and help prevent the development of blood clots, were administered doses that were 100 times stronger than prescribed.

Three of the babies have died since the occurrence, but the hospital claims that their death was caused by natural causes as opposed to the heparin overdose. The parents of many of the babies who were given the excessive doses of heparin have retained Texas personal injury lawyers and obtained court orders demanding that the hospital preserve records related to the care of their children.

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Under a provision of Texas law, lawyers may conduct certain discovery through the court, even though a lawsuit has not been filed. This allows plaintiffs to review documents, preserve evidence and interview witnesses without facing deadlines, such as the requirement that an expert express an opinion on how the death or injury occurred.

Although the Texas statute does not allow healthcare providers to be questioned during these pre-lawsuit proceedings, Judge James Klager ruled last week that lawyers for the families can ask questions about the role of the drug manufacturer and the company that manages the hospital’s pharmacy.

When the heparin overdose lawsuits are eventually filed, they could contain both allegations under theories of medical malpractice, as well as product liability.

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