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April 3, 1996

The Girl Who Died Twice: Every Patient's Nightmare: The Libby Zion Case and the Hidden Hazards of Hospitals

Author Affiliations

Harvard School of Public Health Boston, Mass

JAMA. 1996;275(13):1031. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530370069035

It has been claimed that the Libby Zion case "changed residency training forever."1 Whether or not that is true, the incident has been the subject of longer and more intense discussion, both public and professional, than any in recent memory. As almost everyone knows, Libby Zion was an 18-year-old college freshman who was admitted to New York Hospital on May 4, 1984, with fever and agitation. Nine hours later she was dead. To this day no one knows why.

In a balanced account that is at once dispassionate and provocative, Natalie Robins painstakingly attempts to reconstruct the facts of the case and the surrounding circumstances. Her writing is clear, objective, and evenhanded, neither polemical nor defensive. Acknowledging that each party had a different version of the events, she nonetheless manages to achieve a coherent synthesis of information gleaned from more than 100 interviews and review of public hearings, trial