Babies' deaths spur investigation of pediatric hospital

Seattle's Children's Hospital is being investigated by the state's Department of Health following the deaths of two babies under the hospital's care in two days, reports the Seattle Times

The first child--a newborn whose name, age and gender have yet to be released--was being transferred from another hospital on Sept. 17, when an ambulance staffer administered an unauthorized medication. The child died shortly thereafter. 

The second child, 8-month-old Kaia Zaunter, died on Sept. 19 after being given 10 times the necessary amount of calcium chloride. 

A third patient at the hospital--an adult who needed immediate care--also was incorrectly given medication recently for respiratory distress, but recovered. Hospital staff injected medicine into the person's vein, the newspaper reports, when the medicine should have gone into the muscle. 

This is not the first time Children's has been under fire with regard to medication errors. In March 2009, Michael Blankenship, a 15-year-old suffering from autism, died after being given an overdose of the painkiller fentanyl following surgery, according to seattlepi.com. Because Blankenship could not take medicine orally, a patch used primarily on cancer patients with a high tolerance for narcotics was used on his back. 

The three most recent incidents represent a "failure... to provide safe care," Dr. David Fisher, Children's medical director said in a statement.

"These incidents have caused us to reevaluate our entire medication delivery system," Fisher added. "As a result, we have reviewed the clinical records and begun a detailed root-cause analysis to determine why our usual safety processes failed....As medical director, I take full responsibility and am accountable for patient safety." 

For the immediate future, Fisher said, only pharmacists and anesthesiologists will be allowed to prepare doses of calcium chloride in non-emergent situations. Children's recently was named one of the top 25 pediatric care hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report

For more information:
- read this Seattle Times article
- here's the seattlepi.com piece
- check out Fisher's statement to the media
- read Fisher's email to the Children's staff following Zaunter's death
- check out this King5.com report

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