Case of woman who collapsed outside ER prompts legislation

BOSTON — A man whose wife died days after collapsing outside a locked hospital emergency room hopes Massachusetts lawmakers will act to prevent such tragedies in the future.

Laura Levis was having an asthma attack when she walked to Somerville Hospital's emergency room in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 16, 2016. She called 911 after finding the door locked but was later found unresponsive on a bench near the hospital's main entrance.

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Levis' husband, Peter DeMarco, says legislation filed by state Sen. Patricia Jehlen would require safe access to emergency rooms through such means as improved lighting, emergency doorbells or panic buttons.

A second bill would lift a $100,000 liability cap for hospitals in cases involving death or serious injury.

DeMarco, a journalist, first told his wife's story in The Boston Globe magazine.