The Penobscot Times

Old Town woman claims Bangor hospital failed to give daughter life-saving transfusion

An Old Town woman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital and doctor who allegedly failed to give her daughter a needed blood transfusion following vascular surgery.

Jessie L. Snyder died at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor on April 12, 2019, just one month shy of her 33rd birthday.

Kathryn E. Marquis, 57, on Monday sued Northern Light Health, the parent company of Eastern Maine Medical Center, the hospital, Dr. Ruth E. Talley and Penobscot Respiratory, the practice Talley is associated with, in Penobscot County Superior Court.

Suzanne Spruce, spokesperson for Northern Light Health, declined Tuesday to comment on the lawsuit because it has not yet been served to the hospital with a copy of the complaint.

It is the second time this month that a wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the Bangor hospital. Gail Lombardi, 71, of Winterport sued Feb. 6 claiming that her husband, Ralph “Russ” Joseph Lombardi, died in 2021 when he was given medication intended for another patient. That case is pending.

Marquis is seeking unspecified damages for her daughter’s conscious pain and suffering, extraordinary medical expenses and loss of enjoyment of life.

Snyder underwent surgery on April 8, 2019, at the hospital to improve circulation in her right leg, according to the complaint. During the complicated, seven-hour surgery, she experienced a significant bleeding event.

Jessie L. Snyder, shown in an undated photo, died on April 12, 2019, at the age of 32 following vasular surgery at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center. Her mother, Kathryn Marguis, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that her daughter did not receive a blood transfusion that would have saved her life. Courtesy of Berman & Simmons

After surgery, her blood pressure was dangerously low and lab tests demonstrated she was anemic, the lawsuit claims. Although Snyder required a blood transfusion and the hospital had the blood available, physicians in the post-anesthesia care unit and the intensive care unit allegedly failed to ensure that such a transfusion was administered on an urgent basis.

Five hours after her surgery, Snyder went into cardiac arrest and suffered a loss of oxygen that resulted in her death, the complaint said.

“Jessie Snyder’s death in April 2019 was tragic and should never have occurred,” Marquis’ attorney Travis Brennan of Lewiston said Tuesday. “Jessie needed an urgent blood transfusion, and over the course of several hours her physicians failed to ensure that she received it, thereby causing Jessie to suffer cardiac arrest.”

Snyder was born May 13, 1986, in Kissimmee, Florida, according to her obituary.

“Jessie was a strong girl who never complained about her situation; rather, she cared deeply for others and wanted them to be happy,” it said. “She loved to go to Bingo with her aunt Sarah and to the movies with her cousins. Jessie loved all animals but was especially fond of her dog Holly, cat Autumn and her horse Honey-Bee. She raised money for Operation Liftoff of Maine under the team name Jessie Snyder Riders.”

The new lawsuit comes at a troubling financial time for Northern Light Health. On Feb. 1, a Cumberland County jury awarded the parents of a 25-year-old Portland man $6.5 million in a wrongful death lawsuit over his misdiagnosis for Lyme disease in 2017.

Peter A. Smith died on July 2, 2017, of Lyme carditis, which occurs when Lyme disease bacteria enter the tissue of the heart. He twice in June 2017 visited Dr. John R. Henson at Mercy Hospital, which is owned by Northern Light Health, but was not diagnosed with Lyme disease, according to the family’s legal team.
In November, an all-white jury awarded David Ako-Annan, a Black man, $3 million in his racial discrimination case against Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in federal court in Bangor. The organization is seeking to have the damages reduced to $800,000. A federal judge is expected to rule on that motion late this month or in early March.

Testimony at Ako-Annan’s trial in November revealed that in 2019 Northern Light Health was $30 million in the red. In 2020, that deficit rose to $58 million. Figures for 2021 were not discussed in detail, but a loss was anticipated while officials hoped to “break even” in 2022, according to testimony.

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