Community giving has long been important to actor Dennis Quaid. In 2003, the star of hit movies including The Big Easy (1986), Suspect (1987) and The Parent Trap (1998), began hosting an annual “Dennis Quaid Charity Weekend.” The event raised money for charities including Any Baby Can, Austin Children’s Shelter, and International Hospital for Children.
In 2007, Quaid’s commitment to childhood medical care suddenly — and tragically — became very personal. In November, Quaid and his then-wife Kimberly Buffington welcomed premature newborn twins Thomas and Zoe. At 10 days old, the twins both developed staph infections. The twins were sent to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for treatment.
During this stay, the twins were accidentally given 1,000 times the recommended dose of a blood thinner called heparin. The medication made the children unable to form blood clots, causing them to bleed heavily from any open wounds.
The twins spent 11 days in intensive care and made a full recovery. Other children, however, were not so fortunate. A year earlier, three infants in an Indianapolis hospital were killed by an identical overdose. The manufacturer of the heparin, Baxter Healthcare Corporation, realized that the packaging of the medicine was contributing to the overdoses. The packaging of the 10,000 unit dose of heparin was very similar in size and color to a 10-unit dose called Hep-Lock, which the children should have received. Baxter changed their packaging in 2006 but did not recall the dosages with the old packaging.
The Quaid family sued Baxter Healthcare Corporation and received a 750k settlement in 2008.
The event galvanized Quaid, encouraging him to become a celebrity face of the patient safety movement. Soon after the twins’ recovery, he began The Quaid Foundation with the mission of reducing medical mistakes. In 2008, he testified in front of Congress on the issue of patient safety.
Quaid also worked with Cedars-Sinai to improve their medical technology and training in order to prevent future mistakes. In 2010, Quaid merged his foundation into the Texas Medical Institute of Technology (TMIT), which tests medical systems to improve healthcare safety. Teaming up with the institute, Quaid narrated a documentary about medical harm called “Chasing Zero.”
In the years since, Zoe and Thomas Quaid, now 14-years-old, have remained healthy. While Quaid is no longer as prominent a figure in the patient safety movement, he remains committed to philanthropy and community giving.