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National Campaign Targets Dangerous Cancer Drug Mistakes

A new national campaign targets a dangerous medication error that can occur during the delivery of a chemotherapy drug intended to help patients get better. The Just Bag It Campaign promotes the safe handling of vincristine, which is commonly administered to patients undergoing chemotherapy. The message is for health care professionals to always dilute vincristine in a 50ml mini-IV drip bag and never in a syringe.

According to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), many patients who receive vincristine have a treatment regimen that includes other chemotherapy drugs that are injected into the spinal fluid with a syringe. If vincristine is mistakenly administered into the spine, it causes paralysis, neurological defects, and eventually death.

To prevent deadly medication mistakes, NCCN recently issued guidelines advising health care providers to always dilute vincristine in a mini IV-drip bag and never use a syringe. According to NCCN, this precaution makes it nearly impossible to accidentally administer the medication into the spine and significantly lessens the risk of improper dosage.

The parents of Christopher Wibeto helped kick off the patient safety campaign. The California residents lost their son not to the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma he was battling, but rather to a fatal medical error. Chris, who was only 21-years-old, died when vincristine was mistakenly injected into his spine.

While the tragic medication mistake is preventable, only 50 percent of U.S. hospitals have adopted the Just Bag It protocol. When Robert W. Carlson, MD, one of Christopher’s oncologists, became CEO of the NCCN in 2013, he vowed to take action to prevent future errors. Christopher’s parents eagerly joined the effort.

“If we can do something by telling his story and help promote this bag it campaign so that particular error cannot happen we want to get behind it, it makes us feel good that we have a chance to be involved,” Christopher’s dad Robin stated.

If you or someone you love has suffered serious harm due to a medical error, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information, please contact a San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.