Why Dennis Quaid is fighting to improve patient safety

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© Kevin LaMarque/Reuters/Corbis

Three years ago, a medical mistake almost cost actor Dennis Quaid’s twin children their lives. As the Associated Press reports, at “Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Thomas and Zoe Quaid were accidentally given an overdose of the blood thinner heparin.” For the next 41 hours Quaid says his children’s lives hung in the balance. Though his twins recovered and are now healthy two-year-olds with no signs of long-term damage from the accident, according to the Wall Street Journalhealth blog, the terror of that experience was enough to propel the actor to crusade for improvements in patient safety.

In a new Discovery Channel documentary series, “Chasing Zero: Winning the War on Healthcare Harm,” Quaid—a Golden Globe nominee who has starred in films such as 1995’s Something to Talk About and 2008’s Smart People—explores the stories of families who have lost loved ones to medical errors, and champions efforts to reduce preventable deaths to zero. Medical mistakes and preventable infections result in an estimated 200,000 avoidable deaths each year.

The documentary will air tomorrow, April 24, and again on Saturday, May 1, on the Discovery Channel, or you can watch here.