John James, PhD

Patient Advocate

John T. James, earned a PhD in pathology in 1982 from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore. He was board certified in toxicology in 1986 and is now a retired toxicologist, having spent most of his professional career as NASA’s chief toxicologist. He became a patient safety activist after the death of his 19-year old son, a junior at Baylor University, due to uninformed and unethical medical care. The story is told in his 2007 book A Sea of Broken Hearts. In 2008 he founded Patient Safety America to educate the public about the dangers of medical care. In 2013 he published a seminal article in the Journal of Patient Safety, using recent data to estimate that 440,000 Americans die prematurely each year due to preventable mistakes made during their hospitalization. In 2014 he testified to a Senate Subcommittee on medical errors. He co-edited a book called The Truth about Big Medicine, which was published in 2015. Chapter authors included MDs, nurses, change leaders and PhDs. His current work focuses on informed consent, patient rights, and reducing diagnostic errors. He serves in a half-dozen patient safety and care-quality groups.