If you have children who need to visit a hospital, it might be a good idea
to steer clear of Seattle Children’s Hospital for now. The Washington
State Department of Health has just initiated an investigation of the
hospital after a 2-year-old suffered from permanent brain damage following
a heart operation. The hospital says a balloon catheter was used during
surgery, and an artery burst. The hospital also contends the family was
notified of all the risks involved and that it is standard practice to
use the balloon catheter. For more information on this story, see this article.
Seattle Children’s has other problems to deal with in addition to
the investigation into the heart surgery. It seems there have been several fatal
medication errors at the hospital as well. One incident took place in March 2009 when a
15-year-old autistic boy, Michael Blankenship, underwent dental surgery.
He was given a Fentanyl pain patch, which
caused a fatal drug overdose. Fentanyl is a serious narcotic that should not have been prescribed for
mild post-surgical pain.
Stuart Blankenship (not related), a 12-year-old developmentally disabled
boy, died in March 2003 following a foot surgery. The cause? An overdose
of codeine. Blankenship was given the wrong dose of codeine, and the family
contends the amount of pain medication provided was never monitored.
And more recently, at the end of last month, an infant died at Seattle
yet another overdose. The infant was in intensive care and was administered an incorrect dose
of calcium chloride.
In all of these fatal medication overdoses, the hospital admitted its errors
and said it would change procedures to ensure such deaths did not recur.
I don’t know how the hospital can explain why or how these deaths
keep occurring, though.
For more information on these stories, see