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Holmes v. Eastern Maine Medical Center

Supreme Court of Maine

May 30, 2019

MICHAEL D. HOLMES et al.
v.
EASTERN MAINE MEDICAL CENTER et al.

          Argued: April 10, 2019

          John P. Flynn, III, Esq. (orally), Flynn Law Office, LLC, Bowdoinham, for appellants Michael D. and Debra A. Holmes

          Edward W. Gould, Esq. (orally), and Mariann Z. Malay, Esq., Gross, Minsky & Mogul, P.A., Bangor, for appellees Eastern Maine Medical Center and Michael St. Jean

          Mark G. Lavoie, Esq., Christopher C. Taintor, Esq. (orally), and Joshua D. Hadiaris, Esq., Portland, for appellees Spectrum Medical Group and Guillermo Olivos

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          GORMAN, J.

         [¶1] Michael D. and Debra A. Holmes appeal from a summary judgment entered by the Superior Court (Penobscot County, Anderson, J.) in favor of Spectrum Medical Group and one of its radiologists, Guillermo Olivos, M.D., on the Holmeses' medical malpractice claims, as well as from the court's judgment, entered on a jury verdict, for Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) and one of its surgeons, Michael St. Jean, M.D., on those same claims. We affirm the judgments.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Facts[1]

         [¶2] On August 14, 2012, a surgical oncologist at EMMC removed a noncancerous polyp from Michael's colon. Michael was discharged from EMMC four days later, on August 18, 2012.

         [¶3] On August 20, 2012, at approximately 5:00 p.m., Michael went to the EMMC emergency department complaining of abdominal pain. At 7:00 p.m., Michael was seen by the on-call surgeon-St. Jean. Because he believed Michael was suffering from a postoperative ileus, [2] St. Jean ordered a CT scan of Michael's abdomen to rule out the possibility of active bleeding or an anastomotic leak.[3]

         [¶4] Michael had a CT scan taken of his abdomen at 9:30 p.m. Approximately one hour later, a radiologist interpreted the results of the CT scan and concluded that there was evidence of moderate to severe abdominal ascites, [4] which were "concerning for developing infection versus phlegmonous[5]changes." The report was faxed to EMMC at 10:37 p.m.

         [¶5] At approximately 8:00 the following morning, August 21, 2012, Olivos reviewed the CT scan of Michael's abdomen taken the previous night. In his report, Olivos identified pelvic ascites, noted some dots of air in the ascites near the liver, and also stated that "[t]here [were] no findings to suggest an anastomotic leak."

         [¶6] At approximately 9:40 p.m. on August 21, 2012, Michael was observed by a second surgeon-one of St. Jean's partners-to have fast, shallow breathing, pain, and a distended and tender abdomen; based on these symptoms, this second surgeon determined that Michael's condition warranted immediate exploratory surgery. She began the surgery at 10:55 p.m. and, in the course of that surgery, discovered a small anastomotic leak, which she believed had infected the fluid and blood in the abdomen, causing Michael's "septic state."

         [¶7] After this second surgery, Michael was hospitalized until October 1, 2012. While hospitalized, Michael was intubated for a prolonged period of time and eventually underwent a tracheostomy. Michael also developed deep venous thrombosis ...


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