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Three premature infants died after being given a faulty intravenous solution at Albert Einstein Medical Center, prompting hospital officials Friday to fire two pharmacy employees.

The babies died June 15 and 16 after they were given a solution that was incorrectly prepared in the hospital's pharmacy, Center President Martin Goldsmith said."Someone picked up the wrong bottle," Goldsmith said.

He said the potassium-rich formula caused the babies' heartbeats to drop, which led to their deaths. He said the infants, two boys and a girl, were all in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit. All had been born premature and weighed less than 3 pounds.

"The infants were given an IV solution, incorrectly prepared in the pharmacy, that contained potassium," Goldsmith said. "The potassium caused a drop in heart rate in the three babies. Despite aggressive resuscitation efforts, the infants died."

He said the mistake was uncovered after doctors became suspicious of three deaths occuring within a six-hour span.

"After doing an evaluation of what was in common, the solution was identified and removed from the nursery," Goldsmith said.

He said the other 17 babies in the nursery at the time may have received some of the bad solution, but all were tested. "We know that all the babies are well, and all the bad syringes were removed," Goldsmith said.

Goldsmith said doctors and nurses on the floor had no reason to suspect a problem with the medication. "The material in the syringes looked like it was the correct stuff," he said.

Earlier Friday, the hospital announced that a pharmacist and two pharmacy technicians had been suspended pending an investigation. In the afternoon, one of the technicians was reinstated when it was determined he was not at fault, while the pharmacist and the other technician were fired, Goldsmith said.