Medical errors kill 100,000 Americans every year. A new vanguard is out to fix the fatal flaws.

Published in: Forbes
Written by: Robert Langreth

6/20/2005Josie king was a curious and precocious baby. At 18 months old she loved jumping on the trampoline and had recently learned to say “I love you.” She toddled into the bathroom one day when no one was looking, slipped into the tub and turned scalding hot water on herself. After ten days in the pediatric intensive care unit at Johns HopkinsChildren’s Center in Baltimore, her burns were healing so fast that doctors moved her to an intermediate care ward with hopes of releasing her soon. Her three older siblings started planning a coming-home party.

Then things went terribly wrong. Her mother noticed that Josie started screaming for liquid every time she saw a drink. At one point the girl desperately sucked water out of a washcloth. But nurses told Josie’s mom, Sorrel King, to resist giving her daughter any drinks as she had been vomiting. That evening Josie’s eyes started rolling back in her head, but when Sorrel pointed this out she was told Josie’s vital signs were fine. The next morning Sorrel persuaded doctors to let Josie drink, but then one doc ordered heavy-duty narcotics against another’s instructions. A few minutes later Josie’s heart stopped. She was taken off life support two days later, dying of dehydration and bad medicine in one of the nation’s premier hospitals.

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