Medical malpractice trial update: Maine man still struggling after undiagnosed infection

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John Pierce, a former millworker from Millinocket, Maine, told a jury on Thursday that although emergency heart surgery saved his life in 2011, he still struggles to do the things he did before his heart was damaged by an undiagnosed infection.

Berman & Simmons represents Pierce and his wife Clara in a civil trial being held at Penobscot County Superior Court in Bangor, Maine. The trial is the culmination of a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by the Pierces against St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor, and primary care physician, Dr. Edward Dunstan and his employer, Millinocket Regional Hospital.

The trial opened on Tuesday, Jan. 19, and is expected to conclude next week. The trial focuses on a communication breakdown between healthcare providers.

Attorney 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 Pierce’s testimony. Click here to read the full article. Here’s an excerpt:

Pierce said he was at EMMC recovering from heart surgery when he learned the test performed the previous May had been positive for strep but the results never were sent to his doctor.

“That was an unbelievable thing,” he testified. “I was very upset hearing that. It still bothers me today.”

Pierce said that although his lawsuit is seeking damages, it is “not about the money.”

“We filed the lawsuit because of what was done to me, what was done to my family and to stop it from happening to someone else,” he testified.

1/21/16 BANGOR, Maine — John Pierce, 71, of Millinocket leaves the Penobscot Judicial Center on Thursday after testifying to jurors about how his life has changed since a strep infection damaged his heart valves. Pierce and his wife, Clara Pierce, sued his doctor and two hospitals when test results weren’t shared. Judy Harrison | BDN


John Pierce stands outside the Penobscot County Superior Court in Bangor, Maine, after testifying in a civil trial on Jan. 21, 2016.

Photo credit: Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News

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