Genesis, a baby born four months premature, died after about six weeks in the hospital because of medical malpractice, specifically a transcription error. The Chief of the Division of Quality and Medical Informatics at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York said that this type of error happens much more than they would like.
A pharmacy technician entered information incorrectly when processing an electronic IV order for the baby, which resulted in a massive sodium chloride overdose. The solution contained more than 60 times more than the amount prescribed by the physician, and it caused the infant’s heart to stop.
After two miscarriages, the hopeful parents named their baby Genesis, wishing for a new beginning. The baby made it through a heart operation in the morning without complications, but later that day the mother was called to the hospital. When she arrived, the medical staff was performing CPR on the infant, and about 40 minutes later he was pronounced dead.
The parents have filed a lawsuit for an unspecified amount of money, citing that the hospital’s actions were the cause of their son’s death. The hospital is pursuing a settlement, and it has apologized for the errors and vowed that similar mistakes will not happen again.
The specific cause of the baby’s death, an incorrectly filled form, is a common clerical error. It can be easily avoided with double-checking, but is also easy to overlook. In addition, it was found that the outermost label on the IV bag was inaccurate. When a blood test showed abnormally high sodium levels, a lab technician then assumed that the reading was inaccurate. This series of events is also under investigation.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Baby’s death spotlights safety risks linked to computerized systems,” Judith Graham and Cynthia Dizikes, 27 June 2011