Dennis Quaid Recounts Twins' Drug Ordeal

Actor Tells 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft Medical Errors Kill Thousands

But the hospital never called the Quaids and they didn't find out that anything was wrong until the next day when they showed up at the hospital early the next morning and went to the twins' room.

"We were met at the door by our pediatrician, the nurse - head nurse that was on duty," Dennis Quaid recalls.

"Risk management," his wife adds.

"Risk management, which is basically the liability division of a hospital, which is lawyers," he explains.

Inside the room, the Quaids found their babies bruised and bleeding from all the puncture wounds, where blood had been drawn or where they had received injections.

"They were working on Boone, whose belly button would not stop bleeding. And while they were trying to clamp it, blood squirted across the room, about six feet and landed on the wall. It was blood everywhere," Dennis Quaid says.

"They weren't just given one massive overdose, they were given two massive overdoses?" Kroft asks.

"Two massive overdoses, a thousand times what they should have over an eight-hour period that we know of," Quaid says.

Asked how serious the situation was, Quaid tells Kroft, "It was a life-and-death situation."

"And all of it because of mistakes?" Kroft asks.

"Yeah. It was avoidable, completely avoidable," he says.

And to make matters worse the same avoidable mistake had occurred a year earlier at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Six infants were given multiple adult doses of Heparin instead of the pediatric version; three of the infants survived, three did not.
Asked when he found out about the Indianapolis incident, Quaid says, "In the morning when I had gone in, a pediatrician told me about it."

"He said, 'This has happened before'?" Kroft asks.

"Yeah. He had told me about that three babies died. And it sent a chill down my spine," Quaid remembers.

The Quaids say the crisis went on for 41 hours, as doctors and nurses administered an antidote to Heparin, which helps the blood coagulate. Slowly the twins began to stabilize, and after 12 long days in the hospital, they were allowed to come home.

When 60 Minutes saw them last winter at the Quaids' house in Pacific Palisades, Thomas Boone and Zoe Grace were almost four months old. Both have undergone extensive medical tests and they seem to have come through the ordeal with no signs of permanent damage.

But the experiences changed Dennis Quaid. He's spent much of the past nine months trying to dissect what happened and figuring out ways to draw attention to what is one of the leading causes of death in America - preventable human medical error.

"These mistakes that occurred to us are not unique. And they're not unique even to Cedars. They happen in every hospital, in every state in this country. And 100,000 people, that I've come to find out, there's 100,000 people a year are killed every year in hospitals by a medical mistakes," he says.

  • CBSNews

60 Minutes App

New Look. New Season. The 60 Minutes app for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch!

More from 60 Minutes