Human Error Kills Three Premature Infants: Similar Tragedies Inspire Providers to Learn From the Best in Aviation

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Just days ago, three premature infantsÂ? lives were tragically lost due to a medication mix-up in an Indiana hospital The all too frequent occurrence of these types of fatal mistakes have led many hospitals to adopt the same safety tools that have made commercial aviation so safe and reliable.

According to a report released by the Indianapolis Star, two premature babies died after accidentally receiving an adult dose of blood thinner medication. The drug, heparin, typically leads to internal or external bleeding. Another report on revealed that a third baby died just days later for the same reason. Other reports concluded that this was not the first time this hospital has administered an overdose of heparin.

Discussing the tragedies, the CEO of the hospital said, “…this was human error – that’s all.” According to the Institute of Medicine, human error is one of the leading causes of the preventable deaths of up to 98,000 patients a year.

Hundreds of hospitals are turning to aviation safety experts to tackle the human error problems in healthcare.

“Hospitals are drawn to aviation-based programs for their ability to virtually eliminate patient-harming errors,” says Captain Steve Harden, president of LifeWings Partners LLC ( LifeWings is the country’s largest provider of aviation-based patient safety systems. “Unfortunately, despite the best human intentions, errors occur. No human is perfect. An effective safety system, like that used in commercial aviation, detects and corrects the inevitable small error before it becomes fatal.”

Captain Harden adds, “One of our clients estimates that because of our patient safety system, 200 patients have walked out of their facility rather than being taken to the morgue. I really wish the hospital in Indiana had implemented our system. Three mother’s lives would be very different right now.”

Over 20,000 healthcare personnel have been trained in the LifeWings system. One of them, Dr. Bradford E. Mutchler, when asked if other physicians should participate said, “Do it! It gives you a new perspective to prevent errors and become more appreciative of a team approach.”

About LifeWings Partners LLC

LifeWings Partners LLC was founded by a former U.S. Navy Top Gun instructor, commercial airline pilot, and two physicians who are former NASA astronauts. The firm specializes in applying aviation-based teamwork training and safety tools to help healthcare facilities save patients’ lives and reduce costs. LifeWings has helped over 45 facilities nationwide provide better care to their patients. Measurable results are found in all LifeWings’ initiatives, including one hospital’s “wrong surgery” rate went from 1 in 10,000 to 15,000 cases to 1 in 100,000. The firm also conducts Leadership Development workshops for healthcare executive teams.


Steve Harden, President

LifeWings Partners LLC


9198 Crestwyn Hills Drive

Memphis, TN 38125


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