In The News

News - 2019

Apr. 2019

Jeff Catalano comments in media on effectiveness of MA law on apologies in med-mal matters

Jeffrey N. Catalano in a Boston Globe article said a report issued in the wake of the tragic death of a woman steps away from the emergency room of Somerville Hospital is a commendable step toward greater transparency related to medical care.

The report identified serious procedural flaws of the hospital and its parent company as a result of the death of Laura Levis, who died within feet of Somerville Hospital from a severe asthma attack after she encountered a locked door to the facility's ambulance bay.

The woman managed to call 911, but she was in cardiac arrest when found and died seven days later in 2016. The hospital failed to inform the woman's husband what happened.  The husband later learned the full facts of the incident from a police report.

“It’s important that hospitals recognize that patients’ families have a right to know what happened to their loved one,” Catalano told the Globe.

In a separate report in Cambridge Day, Mr. Catalano commented that the 2012 Massachusetts law requiring medical providers in certain situations to acknowledge medical mistakes and apologize to patients and their families is "slowly but surely gaining traction."

The law is in the spotlight as a result of the report's finding that hospital officials failed to share key details about Levis death with her family and with hospital board members. 

Mr. Catalano told Cambridge Day that harmed patients are benefitted by the movement toward greater transparency among doctors, patients, and med-mal attorneys as a result of candid discussions with their health care providers.

"Some of my most rewarding cases have been the doctor, the hospital and the patient sitting in a room together,” Catalano said.  “You’re not out for blood anymore.”  These discussions help make patients feel better despite the harm done, he added.

He acknowledged that medical providers can avoid disclosures under the law, such as by determining they are not responsible for a patient's injury.

Mr. Catalano, a partner at Todd & Weld, represents victims of catastrophic injuries in medical negligence matters.  He helped to write the 2012 transparency law, and has been instrumental in leading the Massachusetts Alliance for Communication and Resolution following Medical Injury, which helps to inform hospitals and doctors on how to comply with the law.