Intended for healthcare professionals


Quentin Young

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 27 April 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i2393
  1. Anne Gulland
  1. London
  1. annecgulland{at}

Doctor and activist

Quentin David Young was born and raised in Chicago and was closely associated with Cook County Hospital, the city’s only public hospital. It was during one of the institution’s many crises that Young, an internist by training, was asked to become chief of medicine. Young, who had done his residency and internship at the hospital, was a radical with a strong sense of outrage at social injustice and he was appointed in the hope that he would be able to attract like-minded physicians.

Cook County Hospital

The hospital was falling apart—both physically and metaphorically. Because of its reputation it struggled to attract staff so Young set about recruiting a cohort of young, socially committed doctors.

Chief of medicine was a tough job: the hospital was constantly in the headlines and its patients were poor and sick. Young, whose management style was inclusive rather than authoritarian, encouraged dialogue with his staff, which meant that he was often in demand and long days were normal.

A 1979 BBC documentary, I Call It Murder, caught County in all its chaotic glory. It began with an interview with a young doctor who described it as the hospital all the private hospitals “dumped on”—sending it patients who couldn’t pay or were drunk.

Young was fired twice during his tenure as chief of medicine because of …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription