June 1990

The Death Shift: The True Story of Nurse Genene Jones and the Texas Baby Murders

Author Affiliations

Children's Hospital Washington University Medical Center 400 S Kings Highway St Louis, MO 63110


by P. Elkind, 351 pp, $19.95, East Rutherford, NJ, Viking Press, 1989.

Am J Dis Child. 1990;144(6):696. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1990.02150300094024

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Despite this book's sensational subtitle, The True Story of Nurse Genene Jones and the Texas Baby Murders, Elkin's style is much more like that of Berton Roueche, the author of Eleven Blue Men, than that of a tabloid. Hand over hand, he pulls himself and the reader along a chain of tragic events occurring in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and a pediatric practice in San Antonio in 1980.

Injecting succinylcholine in the place of immunizations, a licensed vocational nurse (the Texas equivalent of a licensed practical nurse) converted routine visits to the office of a young pediatrician into "codes." She elbowed experienced emergency medical service personnel aside in a helicopter and gave lethal injections to an infant in front of them, then took credit for early recognition of the "deterioration" that they failed to detect.

In the PICU Jones' patients had a high incidence of unexpected hemorrhage on

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