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Public Relations Incident - Medical

One of the recent public relations scenarios in the news regarding a hospital was the accidental overdose of the blood-thinning drug heparin administered to Dennis Quaid's twin infants. The heparin administered was 1,000 times the prescribed dose-10,000 units instead of the prescribed 10 units--and the incident mirrored a similar error that resulted in the deaths of three premature babies a year earlier at an Indianapolis hospital ("Quaid Sues Drug Maker," 2007, p. 1). The incident occurred at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, and Quaid and his wife sued the drug maker for using packaging that is very similar for the two different strengths of heparin (Waichman, 2007).

The hospital's response was most likely the reason that it escaped a lawsuit. It apologized immediately to the families of the patients involved in the error and stated that tests showed no adverse effects on the babies resulting from the error (Waichman, 2007). The hospital also issued a statement "acknowledging the mistake and calling it a highly unusual, preventable error that involved the failure of their staff to follow Cedar-Sinai policies and procedures" (Waichman, 2007). According to the hospital, seven patients were given the wrong dosages (Waichman, 2007). By acknowledging its error, the hospital was trying to gain the public's trust, and, by stating that there were no adverse effects on the babies, the hospital was trying to put the public at ease. Through its statements, the hospital promoted the view of itself as reliable and safe and gave the clear impression that such errors were exceedingly rare.

Although the hospital's response seemed appropriate at the time, a medical investigation revealed that Cedars-Sinai had not been completely truthful in its statements. Quaid's wife issued a statement saying, "We were told by upper Cedars-Sinai administration that our children had received only one 10,000 unit dose of hepar...

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