Safety

Lessons learned from a death outside a hospital's doorstep

Healthcare Life Safety Compliance, August 25, 2019

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By John Palmer

Historically, hospitals and their caregivers haven’t been very good at giving apologies. Whether it’s from a fear of retribution or lawsuits, or just a desire not to appear fallible, healthcare organizations don’t like to admit it when they make mistakes—and they all do.

Yet apologizing, and meaning it, could be one of the most important ways for a hospital to help give itself a better name.

You may have been following the story of the tragic and preventable death of a young woman outside the doors of Somerville (Massachusetts) Hospital in the early morning hours of September 16, 2016. The woman, 34-year-old Laura Levis, suffered an asthma attack and walked to Somerville Hospital, only to find the entrance she arrived at closed and locked. Unable to get inside, she called 911, and because of a series of miscommunications and missed signs, no one was able to find her. She ended up dying from her condition on a waiting bench just 29 feet outside the hospital’s doors.

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Healthcare Life Safety Compliance.

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