Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010
MBA Secretary Jeffrey N. Catalano, foreground, testifies before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.
Catalano testifies on medical malpractice reform
Massachusetts Bar Association Secretary Jeffrey N. Catalano
testified at a Statehouse hearing on Jan. 28 before the Joint
Committee on the Judiciary regarding various medical malpractice
Catalano, a partner at Todd & Weld LLP in Boston, testified
against House Bill 1332, otherwise called the "apology bill."
The bill, in part, would make any apology or expression of
sympathy or regret by a doctor or health care worker to a patient
or their family inadmissible at trial. However, the bill also
excludes from evidence any acknowledgement of "mistake or error."
Thus, a health care provider could admit a mistake to the patient,
but then later vigorously defend his or her actions in court.
"The MBA is not opposed to letting doctors apologize and not
holding that against them," Catalano told the committee. "In fact,
there is a statute that presently allows health care providers to
do so without having it used against them. The problem is that the
proposed legislation is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It would impose
yet another obstacle for patients in getting to the truth."
Hospital records by themselves can be inadequate in establishing
what happens to patients, Catalano said, and the information
provided by doctors and nurses can be crucial to clarifying how
mistakes were made and by whom.
Catalano also spoke in favor of House Bill 1573, which would amend
Section 85K of Chapter 231 to increase the liability limit of
hospitals from $20,000 to $500,000.
"The injustice this cap does is hard to describe," he said. "The
amendment to this statute is long overdue."
The MBA also submitted written testimony regarding a number of
tort reform bills.
For the full article on Catalano's testimony, look in the
February Lawyers Journal.