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Libby Zion

Libby Zion
BornNovember 30 1965(1965-11-30)
DiedMarch 5 1984 (aged 18)
New York City, New York, U.S.A.

Libby Zion (November 30, 1965 – March 5, 1984) died at age 18 shortly after being admitted to New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center with a high fever. [1]



She was born in 1965 to New York City journalist Sidney Zion and publishing executive, Elsa H. Zion. She had two siblings, Adam Zion and Jed Zion. [1]


She died from complications of Serotonin syndrome, which was an iatrogenic effect of the combination of meperidine and phenelzine. Although meperidine is for moderate pain and phenelzine is an MAOI both are in the class of drugs which may cause the potentially fatal Serotonin Syndrome. A grand jury determined that the long hours of often unsupervised interns and residents contributed to her death. While an appeals court exonerated the doctors, the subsequent investigation led New York State to form the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on Emergency Services, more commonly known as the Bell Commission. This committee developed a series of regulations that addressed several patient care issues, including restraint usage, medication systems, and resident work hours. [2]

One aspect of these regulations is commonly referred to in the medical community as "the Libby Zion Law" and "the Libby Law," limiting resident working hours, and requiring physician supervision. A follow-up study prompted the New York State Department of Health to crack down on violating hospitals.

Eventually the report led to reforms in the number of hours residents could work and more required oversight of their care by accredited physicians, which have since been adopted nationwide.[3]


At the time of her death, she attended Bennington College in Vermont, where she is memorialized with the "Libby Zion Award for Dramatic Excellence."

Further reading

  • The Girl Who Died Twice (ISBN 0440222672), published by writer Natalie Robins in 1996, describes the malpractice case that followed the young woman's death, and raises serious questions about the factors that contributed to the event.


  1. ^ a b "Libby Zion", New York Times, March 6, 1984. Retrieved on 2007-07-21. "Libby Zion, a freshman at Bennington College in Vermont and the daughter of the writer and lawyer Sidney E. Zion and his wife, Elsa, died of cardiac arrest yesterday at New York Hospital after a brief illness. She was 18 years old and lived with her parents in Manhattan. Miss Zion, who had worked recently for the Manhattan Borough President, Andrew J. Stein, as part of a study project and was to have been employed next summer on the clerical staff of The New York Times, became ill several days ago with a flu-like ailment. The cause of the cardiac arrest was not immediately determined. Her father, a former reporter for The Times and former publisher of Scanlon's Magazine, is the author of Read All About It. Her mother is a former publishing executive. Besides her parents, Miss Zion is survived by two brothers, Adam and Jed." 
  2. ^ "Elsa Zion, 70; Helped Cut Doctor Workloads", New York Times, March 5, 2005. Retrieved on 2007-07-21. "Elsa H. Zion, a city official and former publishing executive who campaigned successfully to regulate the workload of interns and residents in New York State's hospitals after the highly publicized death of her daughter, Libby, in 1984, died on Thursday at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. She was 70 and lived in Manhattan. The cause was complications of breast cancer, said her husband, the journalist Sidney Zion." 
  3. ^ Barron H. Lerner. "A Case That Shook Medicine: How One Man's Rage Over His Daughter's Death Sped Reform of Doctor Training", The Washington Post, November 28, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-12-14. 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Libby_Zion". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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