Massachusetts hospital publicly apologizes for 2016 patient death

The parent company of CHA Somerville (Mass.) Hospital issued a public apology Nov. 7 for failing to meet its own transparency and accountability standards in the 2016 death of a patient who died feet from Somerville Hospital's emergency room, according to The Boston Globe.

Here are four things to know:

1. The Boston Globe Magazine published a story Nov. 3 about the death of Laura Levis, who suffered an asthma attack Sept. 16, 2016. The article, written by Ms. Levis' husband Peter DeMarco, details the hospital's communication errors, overburdened staff and lack of fail-safes that affected first responders and caused Ms. Levis to suffer cardiac arrest just in front of Somerville Hospital's ER. Ms. Levis spent seven days in the hospital's intensive care unit before dying on Sept. 22, 2016, at 34 years old.

2. In a Nov. 7 statement from Cambridge (Mass.) Health Alliance provided to The Boston Globe by Mr. DeMarco, the health system said: "It is impossible to read Mr. DeMarco's story about his wife, Laura Levis, without being concerned about the issues he raises. His heartfelt and comprehensive overview sheds light on many areas where Cambridge Health Alliance and the emergency medical response infrastructure made mistakes and must improve."

"It should not have taken an event like this for us to identify and resolve a number of structural, training and communication issues. We have already begun to make the necessary changes," the statement continued. "We could have done better, and we will do better. There are no words to effectively express our sorrow over the loss of Ms. Levis. More importantly, for the role we played in compounding her family's grief, we are deeply sorry."

3. A CHA spokesperson told The Boston Globe in a separate statement Nov. 7 that Somerset Hospital has since improved access to its ER, updated the building's signage and educated staff about "role clarification" between public safety and clinical staff and "the responsibilities for all hospitals in the emergent care of all persons in and around the grounds of a healthcare system."

4. In an interview with the publication Nov. 7, Mr. DeMarco said CHA's apology represented "a positive first step" and that his and Ms. Levis' families "have been waiting over two years to hear them accept even an ounce of responsibility for Laura's death." Mr. DeMarco said he hopes CHA will commit to sharing the lessons from Ms. Levis' death "with as many hospitals as possible across the entire country" to ensure a similar incident "never, ever happens again."

To access the full report, click here.

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