THE GIRL WHO DIED TWICE: Every Patient's Nightmare: The Libby Zion Case and the Hidden Hazards of Hospitals by Natalie Robins
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THE GIRL WHO DIED TWICE: Every Patient's Nightmare: The Libby Zion Case and the Hidden Hazards of Hospitals

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An eye-opening look at the controversial and highly publicized death that led to major revisions in the punishing schedules that doctors-in-training once faced. Eighteen-year-old Libby Zion died on March 4, 1994, just hours after being brought to the emergency room of New York Hospital with a mystifying range of symptoms; the exact cause of her death has never been determined. Her father, combative journalist Sidney Zion, embarked on a 10-year campaign--if not a vendetta--to bring New York Hospital and its doctors to justice. What happened in those few hours Libby spent in one of the country's leading medical centers? Robins (Alien Ink, 1992, etc.) does a masterful job of sorting through the complex maze of conflicting memories and opinions about Libby's strange symptoms, what they meant, and whether she received appropriate care. The author's thorough reporting reveals more than enough blame to go around and gives context to the unusual jury decision that apportioned responsibility equally between Libby and the defendants for her death. But the real culprit for Robins is what she calls medicine's dark secret, the ""closed order book"" system that gives relatively inexperienced, overworked residents and interns the primary responsibility for hospitalized patients, with little or no supervision. Robins's revelations here are important, indeed shocking; but she is most affecting in limning her portrait of gentle, bright, creative Libby. The underlying tragedy of Libby's death is the distance separating parents and children, and the self-delusion of Sidney Zion, who thought he knew his daughter (""She was my confidante . . . my buddy"") but failed to see that this teenager was drowning in a slough of despair, medicating herself with a medley of drugs that probably contributed to her death. Robins elucidates a human as well as a medical disaster in a page-turning read about life, death, justice, and responsibility.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1995
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Delacorte