Personal Injury Newsletter

Just Transparency Newsletter - 2021

Jan. 2021

Doctor, did you wash your hands?

As a medical malpractice attorney, I am dedicated to exposing preventable injuries so that they can be rectified and so that other patients do not suffer the same harm. One type of avoidable harm to patients results from hospital-based infections.  

According to renowned author, surgeon, and public health advocate, Dr. Atul Gawande, in his book Better, over 2 million people a year acquire an infection while in the hospital and over 90,000 die of that infectionYet, to my great frustration, every time I get a call about someone getting harmed or dying from such an infection, I have to reject the case. 

Simply put, it’s impossible to establish who caused the infection and how it happened.  It could have come from a million sources that are undiscoverable.  As an attorney who uses the legal system to improve patient safety, I find this very distressing.

But there is one thing, according to Dr. Gawande, that physicians and nurses can do that will drastically eliminate this problem – They need to wash their hands!  It seems so simple, but in the race to get from one patient to the next, it often gets overlooked. 

So, patients must take on the responsibility of preventing this from happening by simply asking: “Doctor, did you wash your hands?”

We can hope that one future benefit of the pandemic is that the health care system is using improved infection control systems.  But it’s a new and very dangerous world and the educated and assertive patients must do their part to ensure that the health care system works as intended.  

Another way to look at it is that these are the patients who, with a simple question, increase their chances of spending the post-pandemic holidays together with family.

For more information, please contact Jeffrey Catalano at or 617.720.2626.

Jeff has been selected to the Best Lawyers in America directory for personal injury and product liability litigation (plaintiffs) for seven consecutive years (2015-21), and has been designated as one of the Top Rated Lawyers in Medical Malpractice by The Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal.  He has been chosen as a New England Super Lawyer each year since 2009.


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