A wrongful death suit was recently filed against two Bangor hospitals and a couple medical professionals over the 2017 death of Herbert T. Pelletier, 86, of Milford.
Two Bangor hospitals and two medical providers were recently hit with a wrongful death lawsuit over the 2017 death of a man who died from “complications of a ruptured spleen caused when he was struck in the abdomen by the handle of his snowblower.” According to the suit, the man, Herbert T. Pelletier, 86, of Milford, “was not properly diagnosed…and delays in treatment led to his death.”
The suit was filed on October 15 in Penobscot County Superior Court by Herbert’s son, Gary M. Pelletier. At the moment, he is seeking unspecified damages. The defendants in the case are “Paul Ouellette, a physician assistant, and his employer St. Joseph Hospital as well as Dr. Khaldoun Bekdache and his employer, EMMC.” When commenting on the suit, Suzanne Spruce, a spokesperson for EMMC parent organization Northern Light Health said:
“We provide high-quality care and stand behind our physicians who provide that care…We extend our deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Pelletier.”
What happened, though? According to the suit, Herbert was operating a snowblower back on December 13, 2017 “when it got caught on a piece of ice.” As a result, the handle of the appliance hit him hard on the left side of his abdomen. Six days later, he contacted his primary care physician “complaining of pain in his left side.” His doctor instructed him to go to the emergency room to get checked out.
While in the emergency room at St. Joseph Hospital, Herbert was examined by Ouellette, and a CT and blood tests were ordered. The tests found that Herbert had an “enlargement of the spleen but no active bleeding, and fluid in the pelvis that could contain blood.” From there, Ouellette contacted Bekdache, an EMMC trauma surgeon, to discuss a treatment plan. When asked about the incident, Ouellette said Herbert “looked fine and was very stable.” In fact, he seemed so fine that he was released “and instructed to follow up with his primary care physician.”
Unfortunately, Herbert began having trouble breathing on December 24, 2017, prompting his wife to call an ambulance. He was rushed to St. Joseph Hospital where a CD scan of his abdomen revealed that “the spleen had ruptured and was hemorrhaging.” He was rushed to EMMC but his condition continued to worsen. On December 28, 2017, he died “of a lacerated spleen and blunt force trauma to the abdomen,” according to the suit.
The family would like a jury trial, though it is likely to meet delays due to the backlog of criminal cases caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.