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How Are the Quaid Twins Doing?

WebMD's exclusive interview with Dennis and Kimberly Quaid
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Q: How are the twins doing today? continued...

Watching them, though, both Dennis and Kimberly admit to a nagging worry that any parent would share: Are the kids really OK? “No one knows the long-term effect of the dose they received,” Dennis notes grimly. The twins got roughly 1,000 times the recommended dose of heparin when they were hospitalized for staph infections last November at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

"There's a real problem going on and it needs to be addressed," says Quaid. After their experience with the twins, and their research on statistics, they know medical mistakes are a scary, all-too-frequent occurrence.

Q: What surprising fact have they discovered about medical errors?

They’re shockingly common, Dennis and Kimberly Quaid have find out through their research. As in: daily. Medication errors happen on average once a day to a patient in the hospital, and that does not count surgical errors -- such as operating on the wrong limb. Up to 98,000 people a year die in U.S. hospitals as a result of medical errors.

Which is why he’s no longer just Dennis Quaid, actor, husband, father. He’s added ‘’health activist” to that list, and he takes his new role seriously.

Q: How are Dennis and Kimberly tackling the daunting challenge of helping change the U.S. medical system?

Shortly after the twins were released from the hospital last year, they set up The Quaid Foundation, dedicated to reducing medical mistakes. Dennis testified before Congress in May, voicing his strong opposition to the concept of preemption for pharmaceutical companies.

Opponents of applying preemption to pharmaceutical companies say it will undermine a patient's ability to sue if harmed by a drug; proponents say the possibilities of lawsuits after a prescription medication has been approved stifle innovation and say preemption won't deny patients legal redress.

A court case, Wyeth v. Levine, due to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this fall, will rule on that concept of preemption and whether it holds true for pharmaceutical companies.

The overdose incident was equally life-changing for Kimberly, a former real estate agent who’s been married to Dennis since 2004. As upsetting as it all was, and she still wells up when she talks about it, “I feel like we’re here for a reason, that this happened for a reason.”

That reason? Nothing less than to change the way health care is practiced in the United States so help prevent medical errors.

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