A New Meaning for Halloween

I don’t particularly like Halloween. I never really have. The candy makes everyone feel sick; the pumpkin carving is difficult even when you have the special little tools; and the costumes- it’s just too hard to decide what to be. Three of my children- the teenagers- luckily have sort of outgrown it, except now instead of having to worry about costumes I have to worry about what they are doing as they run around the neighborhoods with a bunch of other teenagers at night. Eight-year-old Sam is still into the trick-or-treat thing. Every year I have grand plans of the two of us making his costume together, and every year we end up going to the “costume express” website where he picks out a costume (which usually comes with a plastic weapon of sorts and probably has a “Made in China” label somewhere on it). We type in a credit card number and pay for express shipping because we put it off until the last minute.

Last year, though, I started to think about Halloween a little bit differently, thanks to a special person named Cindy. Cindy makes Halloween feel a little bit like Christmas here at the Josie King Foundation. I met her a few years ago when I was speaking to a group of doctors and nurses. She was in the audience not because she was a doctor or a nurse, but because her husband died from medical errors in 2008.
I remembered Cindy because after that speech she handed me a sealed envelope with the word “confidential” printed on the front and she had tears in her eyes. I didn’t open the envelope until I was on the plane heading home. In the letter she told me about her husband Steve and the medical errors that led to his death.
Steve’s birthday was on Halloween. He loved Halloween. Each year, he would decorate his garage with strobe lights, flying witches and scary sounds that reverberated a block away. He loved to sit out front and greet all the neighborhood children who came to trick or treat and wish him a happy birthday. He would give them handfuls of candy, and then he would bring out the good stuff- little scary presents like glow necklaces, flashing teeth and pumpkin pins.
As the first Halloween without Steve approached, Cindy struggled with what to do. Should she go out of town? Should she visit a friend and pretend Halloween didn’t exist? She couldn’t possibly put on a happy face, greet the trick-or-treaters with a smile and do what her husband was meant to be doing. A part of her wanted to shut the door on it all and just leave a bowl of candy on the doorstep.
That year Cindy read my book Josie’s Story. She told me that she felt a connection to the book and to the Josie King Foundation. She knew what she was going to do for that first Halloween. She was going to dedicate Halloween to her husband and to raising awareness on patient safety. She purchased a case of books and placed them next to the bowl of candy. As the trick-or-treaters rang the doorbell she handed them the candy and the little presents, just as Steve had done. Then she took a copy of Josie’s Story and handed one to each parent who committed to reading it, and asked that they spread the word on the need to make medical care safer.
A few weeks ago, as the weather cooled off and the leaves in Baltimore began to turn red, yellow and orange, Cindy contacted the Josie King Foundation again. She told us that for this Halloween she would like to hand out Care Journals, our little green book for patients and families to help them track new, complicated medical information during a stay in the hospital. Once again Cindy will follow through with what her husband would have wished- candy and little presents for the children, along with doing what she can to educate her friends and neighbors on patient safety and the need to prevent medical errors.
Thank you, Cindy, for your support and for the generous donation to the Josie King Foundation. Thank you for your work in preventing medical errors. Most of all, thank you for making this a special day to remember Steve- even for those of us who never knew him.
Happy Halloween to you, and to everyone else.
-Sorrel
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A Morning with Blue Cross Blue Shield Executives

Last week I spent the morning in Chicago at the Blue National Summit of the national Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. This conference was unlike any previous conference that Blue Cross Blue Shield had put together. In the past, each separate entity of the Blues- the account people, the marketing people, the information technology people- would have their own separate conference. This year, however, the Blues decided to mix it up. They decided to bring everyone together- 1,100 executives from varying backgrounds all under one roof for a three day conference.

A few months earlier I had been asked to be one of the conference’s keynote speakers. I was hesitant to accept. This was not my usual hospital group of doctors, nurses, CEOs. How could I make a difference in the way health insurance executives think about patient safety?
In my efforts to answer that question, I simplified it, as I sometimes have to do in order to understand something. I began to see more clearly that these Blue Cross Blue Shield executives were just a group of people who wanted to help their clients- people like me and 100 million other people: they help pay our bills when we are in the hospital; they don’t want us to receive a hospital-acquired infection; and they don’t want us to be put into harm’s way by medical errors, because these things lead to longer hospital stays or even death.
These executives don’t want any of this to happen to their clients because it will cost them more money AND because they are good people. They want their clients to receive quality care, which is what we deserve and what they are paying for- nothing less.
BCBS is a big, powerful company. If I could somehow inspire them to put added pressure on the hospitals to prevent central line bloodstream infections or other medical errors that kill 98,000 Americans annually, then my job and that of the Josie King Foundation could possibly be made easier. They could come at this patient safety work from a different angle.
I decided I would miss Jack’s soccer game and Eva’s hockey game and I flew to Chicago. Usually when I am asked to address an audience I choose to stand behind the podium because it gives me a little sense of security. But this time I stepped away from the podium and moved closer to the edge of the stage, closer to the audience. I had only one chance, forty minutes to make a difference. I shared Josie’s story and I asked the audience for their help. I flew home after the conference hoping that Josie’s story had moved them.
That afternoon, the Josie King Foundation began to receive emails from people who were in the audience. They told us that they would remember Josie’s story, and that they planned on using the story along with some Josie King Foundation programs to transform their work. That was all I needed to hear. I knew that the trip had been worth it. There would be many other soccer games, but not many opportunities like the one I had been given in Chicago.
Thank you to all of the wonderful BCBS executives who gave me forty minutes of their time last week. Thank you for letting Josie’s story into your hearts. Thank you most of all for taking that story and letting it be more than just inspiration. Thank you for your work in encouraging hospitals to provide us with safe care. Please keep up the good work and know that the Josie King Foundation is counting on you.
-Sorrel
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Patient Journal App Now Available, Created for You by the Josie King Foundation

I am so happy to make this wonderful announcement- The Josie King Foundation presents the Patient Journal App, a tool for your iPhone that you can use to record important information related to a hospital stay. Please take your iPhone out of your pocket and go to the Apple iTunes Store. Search for “Patient Journal” or “Josie King” and there it is. (You can also go directly to the app via this link: http://itunes.com/apps/PatientJournal.) You will recognize the pretty Josie King Foundation logo. Go ahead and download it. It’s completely free.

Let me tell you a few things about this most wonderful Patient Journal app, which is based on our successful Care Journal. So, there you are in the hospital. You, your child or a loved one is sick. You are scared and confused. You may feel a bit powerless until you whip out your beloved iPhone and click on that pretty little leaf and up pops your Patient Journal.

Each day your Patient Journal prompts you to type in important information like:

  • Parking Place: If you are a hospital visitor like me, you are always forgetting where you parked your car in that huge parking lot. Noting it in your Patient Journal app means you have one less thing to remember.
  • Medical Team on Duty: Doctors, nurses, aides, therapists- they are all vital members of the medical team. It is nice to remember their names.
  • Daily Goals: The medical team has daily goals for their patients (like keeping blood potassium at a certain level or walking ten laps around the ward, for example) and we should be aware of them and do what we can to help.
  • Medications: It is important to know what those meds do and what the potential side effects may be.
  • Procedures: What is the procedure for? Why did the doctor recommend it? Don’t forget to ask for the results.
  • Diet: It is a good idea to record what liquids and foods the patient is taking. Some patients need to drink a certain amount of water daily, or slowly work up to eating solids after surgery.
  • Questions to Ask: I really like this one. This is where you note the questions that you have for your medical team. It is easy to refer back to this list when the doctors and nurses make their rounds. No worries about forgetting the important questions.

Each day you will keep all of this very important information tucked away safe and sound in your pocket. What could be easier?

Now here is what I REALLY like about the fabulous Patient Journal app. Your husband is out of town and asks you how things are going and instead of having to remember each procedure, each medication, each doctor and nurse (because you are so tired) all you do is whip out your iPhone, open your Patient Journal, enter his email address, and push “send”.

Maybe your family physician wants to know how the patient is doing, so you enter her address and push “send”. Maybe you want to talk to a specialist on the other side of the country; enter the email address and push “send”. Basically, you hae created your own set of informal medical records.

So to all of the Josie King Foundation friends, to all of Josie’s Story friends, to all of my friends and family…well, really to EVERYONE who will every be in the hospital please, please, PLEASE use the Patient Journal app. It is a gift from us to you. We hope you like it as much as we do. Please send us your thoughts and comments. Email us at app@josieking.org.

Your friend (who is VERY excited about this project),
Sorrel

P.S.- Many thanks to the super smart team at Spinapse, the terrific software development company that worked with us to make the Patient Journal such a smart, easy-to-use, helpful app.

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Summer Jobs

Summer Jobs
This summer has been a big work summer for my four children and their nine cousins. I’d like to say it is because their parents have instilled in them a good, firm work ethic, but the truth of the matter is that I think it is all due to their beloved and very generous grandfather (my father) Pop Pop.At the beginning of the summer Pop Pop sent a letter to each of his grandchildren telling them the importance of summer jobs and saving money. Pop Pop is wise enough to know that simply saying “get a job” does not always translate into getting a job. He added a tasty little carrot, a P.S. that said, “For every dollar you earn, I will match it. If you make $20, I will give you an extra $20”. He explained that part of the deal was that they each had to email him a work log which included a description of the job, the dates and the amount earned. He set a deadline- the first of each month. If the deadlines were not met, then there would be no match.And so the summer began with Pop Pop’s thirteen grandchildren scrambling to find jobs, and the emails began flooding his inbox. Benjamin landed a construction job in Washington D.C.; Jack worked on a farm digging post holes and baling hay; Lee put together a summer camp; Relly and Eva painted the garden fence and Sam stuffed envelopes for the Josie King Foundation.Stokes (15) and Andrew (14), my two nephews who live in Virginia, came up with a particularly interesting money making scheme. They named their enterprise A.s. You Like It Car Care. (The “A” stands for Andrew and the “S” stands for Stokes. I asked Andrew why the “A” was upper case and the “S” was lower case. He said he designed the logo, and that’s why the “A” was upper case.) They sent flyers to all of their neighbors and friends. They bought car cleaning supplies. They set up a table with magazines and lemonade. Then they turned on the hose and started scrubbing.

On the lemonade table was Josie’s Story and information about the Josie King Foundation. They told each customer that 30% of all the proceeds would go to benefit the Josie King Foundation. As they scrubbed they answered questions about their little cousin who died nine years ago from medical errors and they explained the Josie King Foundation and why they supported it. I received a check a few days ago from A.s. You Like It Car Care. I want to thank Andrew and Stokes for being so creative and clever and, most of all, for being so generous and thinking about not only the bikes they are saving up for, but also for thinking about the Josie King Foundation. Thank you also to Pop Pop for inspiring his grandchildren to put in those extra long hours of hard work. To all of his grandchildren—keep on working. Just six more weeks until summer ends. -Sorrel
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A Thank You to Nurses

[Sorry for the delay in getting this up. We ran into some problems with Blogger, our blog host. Thanks for understanding!]

Over the years throughout my journey into the health care industry I have been lucky enough to meet hundreds of nurses, maybe even thousands. Sometimes they pick me up at airports and drive me back to their hospitals. They give me hospital tours, taking me from floor to floor, introducing me to their nurse friends along the way. I have lunch with them. We sit in meetings together. Most of the time I meet them at patient safety conferences where I am a speaker. The nurses are the ones sitting in the front rows, who come up to me after I speak, shake my hand, give me a hug and tell me their own stories of medical errors. They tell me about their patient safety work- the things they are doing to make care safer on the unit.

I am grateful to nurses for many reasons, first of all, for the simple fact that they are nurses. They wake up each day and go to work with one goal in mind- to make someone’s life a little better. They work long hours and are on their feet all day or all night. Sometimes they are short staffed and have to work extra hard. They are being pulled in a million different directions, but they seem to do it all with a smile on their faces. Wherever I go, I always come home with little tidbits of wisdom that I pick up from the nurses I have met:
-When you are on your feet for long hours like they are, the most comfortable shoe is a good quality tennis shoe. The Skecher brand is a favorite, especially the kind with the curved sole. Several nurses I’ve met call them “butt-lifters”. I bought a pair for myself and have not noticed the butt lifting aspect of them, but they are very comfortable. Birkenstocks are also popular, as are the Dansko clogs, which seem to be worn more often by the OR nurses than the floor nurses.
-When I was in Ohio I met a nurse named Mary. She had the prettiest, whitest teeth, so I complimented her on them. She laughed and told me she used the Crest Whitening Strips. A week after I returned from my visit she sent me a package with a box of the advanced formula strips. I’m not sure if she sent them because she thought I needed them or just to be nice- maybe a little of both. I have been using them everyday for a month now, and I really do notice a difference.
-Once I was at lunch with some nurses in Dearborn, Michigan. Chris, the nurse next to me, asked how I was doing with all of the travel and work. I told her I was trying to step back from it all and that I hated leaving my family and that even when I was home I felt like I was working all the time. She suggested that I bake cookies when the children come home (it makes the house smell good and homey), put a flower next to the computer (so I could have something pretty to look at when I work), and to start using a crock pot (to save time on cooking healthy meals for my family). I did all of the things she told me to do, and I continue doing them- except for the crock pot thing. That never really worked out for me. Maybe I need to ask her for some good recipes.
-Sometimes when I am visiting hospitals there are medical terms I don’t understand- like c. diff or BPOC. My nurse friends always give me a thorough, easy to understand explanation.
-Nurses have taught me how to deal with stress and difficult situations. Exercise and reflecting on what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what can be done to make things better tomorrow are just two of the many recommendations they have shared with me over the years.
If I could do it all over again, I would like to join the ranks of this very noble group whom I greatly admire and who have taught me so much, not only about the health care industry, but also about life.
Thank you to all of the wonderful nurses who inspire us to be better, stronger, happier people. Thank you for all that you do for patients and their families. Thank you for your friendship to me and the Josie King Foundation. You are an honorable, humble, smart, wonderful, fun-to-be-with bunch and I am lucky to have met so many of you.
Happy Nurses Week.
Many thanks,
Sorrel
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What to do with condolence letters?

A few weeks ago a friend told me about a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It was a clever little book with lots of tidbits on things that make us happy- one of which was doing something that you have been putting off for a long time, like putting together scrapbooks. Each of my children has a baby book except for Sam, who is now eight years old. His book was my first priority. So, feeling inspired by The Happiness Project and knowing how great I would feel if I completed this nagging task that I had been putting off for years, I gathered the boxes of pictures that had been sitting on a bookshelf. Then I went into every room in the house and gathered the stragglers- the pictures the children had snagged from the boxes over the years. I put them all in the dining room and started sorting and filing just as The Happiness Project suggested. After a little while Sam and Eva came to hep. Jack moved his homework into the dining room and we all started going through the pictures.

One of the boxes contained the condolence letters that people had written to us when Josie died. I had not looked at these letters in over eight years. Eva, who is now twelve, started looking through some of them. She was three when Josie died and I don’t think she remembered much. I watched her as she read one and then another. I wanted to somehow casually take the letter from her without making a big deal. I didn’t want her to read them. I didn’t want her to know about all of that horrible, sad, grieving condolence letter stuff, but I didn’t take them away. I let her read. After reading a few she dumped them all out and put them in a neat pile, and then went outside to play basketball with Sam.
I picked up the letter she had placed on top of the pile and began reading. It was as if the piece of paper had come to life. The words threw me right back to those awful weeks and months. It all came back- that horrible feeling of loss and helplessness. I put the letter down and looked at the pile and then I looked over at the fire burning in the fireplace. I wanted to lay them one by one in the flames and be forever done with all of that sadness. I decided that before I destroyed the letters I needed to think about it first.
I’ve been thinking and pondering for the past week and I still don’t know what to do. I’ve even asked other people their thoughts on the subject. What happens to condolence letters? How long should we save them? A part of me wonders if it would be healthy to get rid of them, to close the door on that part of life. Why save something that brings back such sad memories? It’s not like they are photographs- snapshots into a life that once existed. Those I would never throw away. The letters are just pieces of paper with sad, depressing words- words I don’t want to read again.
But then a part of me thinks I should let them be, and I don’t know why. Would my children ever want to read them? Would their children? I don’t know. I decided I should ask my husband Tony. His response: “I never knew we still had them.” In his mind they had been tossed years ago. Hmmm, this seemed like more of a reason to get rid of them.
I needed to ask another mother who lost a child. My friend’s son died twenty years ago. She had kept the condolence letters in a box in the attic and never read them. Every few years, she would go to the box, take a handful out, and put them in the trash. Five minutes later, she would go back to the trash, pull them out and return them to the box in the attic. “I don’t know why I do that,” she said. “It just feels weird throwing them out.”
I’m still sort of wondering what to do. The letters are upstairs in the hallway waiting to be placed back in the attic for another eight years. Or perhaps they will go into the trash. The Happiness Project does say to get rid of clutter, but maybe clutter is not the right word here. The letters are a different type of clutter which I can’t quite explain. For now, I walk past the box of letters in the hallway and wonder what other people have done with theirs.
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Visiting Excela Health

A few days ago I went to Pennsylvania to speak at a patient safety event sponsored by Excela Health. It was a pretty drive- through Maryland, across the Appalachian Mountains, and then into the Allegheny Mountains heading through Southern Pennsylvania. As Tom the driver and I drove deeper into central Pennsylvania, we passed through little towns- Breezewood, Somerset, Ligonier. I imagined these were old mining towns that were once bustling with life and growth. I was sad to see so many empty storefronts with “For Rent” signs in the windows.

Latrobe, Pennsylvania, was my destination. Tom is a history buff and with every trip we go on he always does a little research and shares his interesting tidbits with me. Fred Rogers (of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”) grew up in Latrobe, and so did the golfer Arnold Palmer. Plus, the banana split was first created in Latrobe.
The great people of Excela Health organized a wonderful event: a reception at 5:30 pm with delicious food, my presentation at 6:30, and a book signing to follow.
There were a couple of things that made this event stand out for me:
-It was held in the Fred Rogers Center – a beautiful facility donated by Mr. Rogers’ family. There were glass cases that held Mr. Rogers’ famous red sweater and blue coat, his blue sneakers and loafers, and the puppets- King Friday and Lady Elaine. All of this notes- yellowing and faded- that he had written for the shows were displayed in the cases. I am 44 year old. I grew up with Mr. Rogers, so it was fun to see all of this.

-Excela did something that most hospitals- at least the ones at which I have been invited to speak- have not done before. They opened up the event to the entire community. It was nice that they recognized that this topic- patient safety- was not just for the health care industry. It was about getting the patient and the family involved. This was something that I had wanted to see for many years and it was a thrill to finally be able to speak to not only health care providers, but regular people just like me.
-The book signing began much like the others. I wrote notes and signed books for doctors, nurses, board members, administrators. Then I began seeing young (really young) faces- students who were in medical school, nursing school and even students who were in high school. A young boy with a baseball cap and jeans that hung low on his hips handed me the book and said, “I think I might want to be a doctor one day.” I wrote a long note to him and handed him back the book. He read the note and then stuck his hand out to shake mine and said, “Thank you, Mrs. King.”
It was great to meet these young, fresh, bright minds and I am honored that they took time out of their evenings when they could have been doing homework, playing sports, chatting on Facebook, or watching TV to come hear me speak and buy Josie’s Story. They will read the book and I hope their dreams of becoming doctors and nurses will come true. I believe if they do, they will always remember Josie.
Thank you, Excela Health, for all of your great patient safety work. Thanks, too, for a wonderful evening. Most of all, thank you to all of the students who came to hear me. Study hard and become doctors and nurses. You are the next generation, the new culture. YOU will make a difference in the lives of many.
-Sorrel
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Getting a Grip on My Fear of Flying

I’ve never really liked flying. As I’ve gotten older, my fear and dread of flying the friendly skies has only gotten worse. I’m not sure why that is- maybe it’s because my children have already suffered the loss of a sibling and I just don’t want them to have to suffer another loss. Since my book Josie’s Story was released a few months ago, my time spent on airplanes has increased dramatically. I’ve been to twenty-five cities in the past seven months. Any chance I can hop on a train (which is not too often) I take it.

The plane lifts off, and it’s the same every time. My hands are sweaty. My mouth is dry. My stomach is in knots. As the plane continues to list itself further and further away from the ground I am certain that soon it will decide that the load of passengers, bags and highly flammable gas is too heavy and the only thing to do is to plop to the ground and explode into a ball of flames. Once the plane levels off and the stewardesses begin serving drinks, I settle down a little until I feel the slightest bump or hear the faintest out-of-the-ordinary sound- surely an engine malfunction- then my panic attack starts all over again. When the plane lands I always give the pilot a little smile and say thank you. I am grateful and I am exhausted and my trip has just begun.
Not long ago I told myself I was either going to give up the travel (which meant giving up the book tour and my work with the health care industry) or I had to get a grip on the situation and find a way to deal with it. I decided I would face the problem head on and try to fix it myself before I went the route of seeing a shrink (which I had no time for) or taking some sort of medication (which I didn’t want to do).
So after seven months of frequent air travel, here is how I deal with my fear of flying:
-When I am buying magazines in the airport before my flight, I say to the cashier, “I hope my plane does not crash.” If the plane were to crash, it would be too weird of a coincidence for the cashier lady. A coincidence like that must be highly unlikely, therefore I am decreasing the chances for the plan to crash. A few flights ago, I decided this strategy was a bit odd (particularly for the cashier at the Hudson News store at BWI), so I no longer use it.
-If I can’t find someone to talk to during takeoff I read my “People Magazine”. It is easy to read and entertaining enough to get your mind off of what is happening. I also chew two pieces of Orbit chewing gum.
-Leaving a little work undone that absolutely MUST be done before arriving at your final destination forces you to focus on something else.
-Listening to good music helps block out the scary noises of the engines.
The thing that really helps the most is the realization I came to thanks to the wise words of my English friend who flies often from London to the States. She mentioned that her most recent flight took eight hours longer than it should have. I asked her why. She proceeded to explain that two hours after take-off they had to return to Heathrow because of a high terrorist alert that had just gone into effect. After another few hours of searching the plane the passengers re-boarded and once again headed west across the Atlantic.
What struck me about her story was not just the story itself, but rather the way she told it. It was as if she were telling me about a trip to the grocery store.
“Weren’t you scared?” I asked her.
“What is the point of being scared and getting worked up when you have absolutely no control over the situation. It is an absurd and ridiculous waste of precious energy,” she said in her beautiful English accent. “When it is your time to go, it is your time to go. You can’t control that, so why waste your energy worrying?”
What she said made sense. Getting worked up, being afraid does not prevent the plane from crashing. It IS pointless. It IS a waste of energy. She was right. When it is our time to go, we go and we can’t control that. We might as well just relax.
So I read my “People Magazine”, chew my gum, listen to my iPod, and do my work that absolutely must be done before I arrive at the next city. I don’t mind sitting by the window anymore. Sometimes I even lean against it and look past the five inch-thick piece of metal and plastic that separates me from the 30,000-foot drop. I look down at all the little houses with the little swimming pools and the little, tiny cars that travel on the little, grey strips of road and I think how pretty it all is.
I am no longer exhausted by the flights. I am actually quite productive. I get my work done; sometimes I even get extra work done. I read the newspaper or books off of my beloved Kindle. I get geared up for the next city, the next group of amazing nurses and doctors- or better yet, back home to my family in Baltimore.
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At the Ivy Bookshop

Last week I had a book signing at the local Ivy Bookshop in my hometown of Baltimore. The Ivy- wedged between a Blockbuster and a men’s clothing store just a mile from my house- has been a part of my book journey from the very beginning.

I had fallen into a good routine with the writing- after dropping the children off at school I would sit down in front of my laptop and start to write. It took about four hours of writing before the silence would start to bother me and the loneliness would set in. It was then that I knew I needed to head to the Ivy. It felt good to be surrounded by the books that covered every possible inch of the little store. I would usually buy a book, but the real reason I was there was because of Bonnie, Shirley, Alice and Greg. Every time I walked into the store they would ask me how the book was coming and they would say, “One day we will have a book signing party for you.”
For a long time no one knew I was writing a book. But my friends at the Ivy did, and for two years they encouraged me and pushed me along. I never thought the day would come when my book would be lining the Ivy shelves, much less find a place in the front window, but it did. As Josie’s Story tiptoed into the world, the book events began to fill my calendar- with the Ivy event set for Sunday, September 13.
I wasn’t sure what would be worse: standing in front of 1,000 health care professionals- total strangers- or standing in front of the community in which I lived. What if no one showed up? What if they hated the book?
The Sunday afternoon was beautiful- not too hot. The sun had lowered itself behind the building just enough to provide the perfect amount of shade for the guests who sat outside in chairs that were lined up amphitheater-style. Tables of food surrounded the edges.
Dr. Peter Pronovost- a doctor from Hopkins who over the years had not only become a partner in my quest to improve patient safety, but had become my friend- introduced me to the guests. As I had seen so many times before, Peter captivated the audience with his brilliance, his charisma and his humility.
I had jotted down some notes on what I was going to say, but as I stood behind the podium I realized that I didn’t need my notes. These were my friends, my family. I’ve learned that sometimes- actually, always- it is best just to speak from the heart. It does not matter who is in the audience- whether it is a large group of nurses and doctors or a small group of family and friends. All that matters is the message. If you have a message that you are passionate about, it will just sort of find its way from your head, through your heart, and right on out into the world.
I signed books with Sam my seven-year-old by my side. Friends would ask him to sign his name next to mine. With a black Sharpie pen gripped tightly between his little fingers, he concentrated hard and signed his name in perfect Calvert script. It became a book signing not just for me, but for my entire family with Jack, Relly and Eva filling requests to sign their names alongside Sam’s. This was not just my journey. This was their journey, their story.
Thank you to Darielle Linehan and the Ivy Bookshop for getting so behind Josie’s Story. Not only did they put on a beautiful event, but they also agreed to donate a portion of their proceeds to the Josie King Foundation. The little Ivy Bookshop is truly a bookstore with a heart- a BIG heart- and a desire to make a difference in people’s lives.
Thank you to Peter Pronovost, whose work continues to transform health care for us all.
Most of all, thank you to my family and friends for coming out to support Josie’s Story.
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September 8th – Official Book Release of “Josie’s Story”

My book Josie’s Story has been in stores for a number of weeks, however today- September 8th- is the official publication date. It is now in stores nationwide- 20,000 hardback copies in Barnes and Nobles, Borders, Amazon.com and book stores in little towns and big cities all across America and Canada.

September 8th has been on my mind for many months. Will I regret having written the book? Will I regret having Josie’s story- my family’s story- out there for everyone to read? Did I do a good job? Will people like it? What if they hate it? I have decided that I cannot worry about those things anymore because they are now out of my hands. I will simply cross my fingers and hope that people will like the book and hope, hope, hope that the book will perhaps make a difference in someone’s life- a mother who has lost a child, a nurse who is finding a way to speaking up and prevent a medical error, a patient who is in the hospital bed and is not sure about the medication that is about to be administered.
It took me four years off and on to write the book. When I signed the book deal with Grove/Atlantic two years ago it was no longer off and on. I learned that deadlines are good things. It was a long, sometimes lonely, two years of writing with some ups and downs along the way. When my editor told me the whole thing needed to be restructured, I wasn’t sure how I would do it. But I trudged along, knowing that I had to do the work. I had to get to September 8th and I had to do a good job.
In a few days I will pack my bag and leave my family, whom I have never left for more than a day, for an entire week. This will be the beginning of a Fall book tour. I will travel to hospitals around the country and do my best to inspire doctors, nurses, pharmacists, risk managers, and CEOs, to continue their essential work on the patient safety front. At each event Josie’s Story will be available. I look forward to spending time with the many great health care providers I will be meeting.
I am ready for the second part of the book journey. I hope this part of the journey will further raise awareness about medical errors and patient safety, further inspire health care providers and further educate patients and their families. But most of all I hope people just like Josie’s Story.

I look forward to reporting in after my travels.
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