updated 9/19/2006 9:26:32 PM ET 2006-09-20T01:26:32

A hospital where two premature infants died after being given an overdose of a blood thinner has offered to financially compensate their families, the hospital CEO said Tuesday.

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Two girls less than a week old died Saturday at Methodist Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit after being given adult doses of heparin, which is often used to prevent blood clots that could clog intravenous tubes.

Four other babies were still being treated after being given too powerful a dose of the drug, which a pharmacy technician accidentally stored in the care unit's drug cabinet.

Hospital officials offered to pay funeral expenses for Emmery Miller and D'myia Alexander Nelson. The hospital also will offer to pay for family counseling and provide restitution to all six families affected, said Sam Odle, president and CEO of Methodist Hospital, which is part of Clarian Health Partners.

"We are acutely aware that nothing can adequately compensate these families for their loss," Odle said.

Three of the four other infants remained in critical but stable condition Tuesday at Methodist and were no longer showing ill effects from the heparin, officials said. A fourth was in critical and unstable condition at Riley Hospital for Children.

Odle said neither of the dead infants' families had talked to the hospital yet about possible compensation. He said the hospital will discuss compensating the families of the infants who survived the overdose on a case-by-case basis.

"We would handle each family on an individual basis," Odle said. "We will make sure that the families are (as) satisfied with the outcome as we possibly can."

Since the overdoses, the hospital has taken steps to ensure the mistake does not happen again. It will no longer keep certain doses of heparin in inventory, and all newborn and pediatric critical care units will require a minimum of two nurses to validate any dose of heparin, said Odle.

It is not the first time the hospital has administered an overdose of the drug, Odle said. A similar overdose of heparin was given to two patients in the hospital's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in 2001. Both recovered, he said.

Staff members involved with Saturday's mistake were receiving counseling and taking time off until they felt comfortable returning to work, hospital officials said.

Deb Hutchens, a neonatal nurse practitioner, said nurses were devastated.

"I feel like this is a NICU family," she said. "We are very close. We all feel very deep sorrow. It's just going to be a very long healing process for all of us."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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