Healthcare communication breakdown is focus of Bangor malpractice trial

Jurors heard opening arguments Tuesday in a civil trial that focuses on a communication breakdown between hospitals and a family doctor in northern Maine.

Berman & Simmons law represents John and Clara Pierce, a husband and wife from Millinocket, Maine, in a medical malpractice lawsuit against St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor, and primary care physician, Dr. Edward Dunstan and his employer, Millinocket Regional Hospital.

The trial is expected to last about two weeks. Justice William Anderson is presiding at Penobscot County Superior Court.

Attorneys Benjamin Gideon and Julian Sweet of Berman & Simmons claim that if John Pierce’s healthcare providers had communicated with each other properly, they would have realized that an infection was literally destroying his heart. He would not have had to undergo emergency heart surgery, and his life would be much different than it is today. The Pierces seek damages for medical expenses, pain, suffering, emotional distress and the permanent damage to John Pierce’s heart caused by the eight-month delay in diagnosing his heart infection.

The Bangor Daily News covered the opening day of the trial. Click here to read the full article. Here’s an excerpt:

Jury to decide Maine couple’s lawsuit against doctor, 2 hospitals

By Judy Harrison

BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — A jury will decide who bears responsibility for the heart damage a Millinocket man suffered when a local hospital failed to send blood test results to his doctor.

John Pierce, 71, and his wife, Clara Pierce, 63, in 2012 sued St. Joseph Hospital, his physician, Dr. Edward Dunstan, and Millinocket Regional Hospital, where the doctor is employed, in Penobscot County Superior Court.

“What happened to John Pierce was completely, 100 percent preventable if the hospital and his doctor had followed the safety rules about how providers communicate with each other,” Pierce’s attorney, Benjamin Gideon of Lewiston, told the jury of seven men and four women, including three alternates, in his opening statement.

Benjamin Gideon at Pierce trial Jan. 19, 2016
BANGOR, MAINE — 01/19/2016 — Benjamin Gideon, one of the attorneys for John Pierce and his wife, speaks during opening arguments on Tuesday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor. The Pierces are suing Millinocket Regional Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital and Dr. Edward Dunstan. Gabor Degre | BDN

Benjamin Gideon presents opening arguments on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, in Pierce v. St. Joseph Hospital, et al., at Penobscot County Superior Court in Bangor, Maine.

Photo credit: Gabor Degre, Bangor Daily News

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