AUBURN — A prominent local doctor has prevailed in a lawsuit filed against him and his orthopaedic practice by a patient who underwent spinal surgery.
A jury found 7-2 on Tuesday that Dr. Michael E. Regan and Central Maine Orthopaedics weren't negligent in caring for Douglas Nichols of Lisbon Falls.
Nichols was involved in a car crash in 2005 and taken to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston the night of the accident, according to the complaint filed in Androscoggin County Superior Court.
When he was admitted, he had muscular control of his arms and legs, his suit said. A scan taken the next day showed several injured vertebrae. After an orthopaedic consultation, a doctor recommended surgery.
Regan performed a neurological exam, noting that Nichols had numbness in one leg, the complaint said. Regan indicated he planned to manage Nichols' condition without surgery.
For the next several days, Nichols continued to have tingling and numbness in his legs, the complaint said.
Regan examined Nichols again nearly a week after the accident. Nichols said he had more numbness below the waist. A day later, Regan ordered Nichols into surgery.
Nichols was released from the hospital two weeks after surgery. He continued to suffer from bowel and bladder dysfunction and incontinence, the complaint said. Nichols wouldn't have had that outcome if appropriate medical care had been provided, the complaint said.
Nichols sued, saying Regan “failed to use and exercise an appropriate degree of learning, skill and care required in his provision of care and treatment” of Nichols, an allegation Regan and his practice denied. Moreover, Nichols said in his complaint that Regan failed to recognize the urgency of the need for surgical intervention of Nichols' injuries. Regan denied that claim.
Nichols sued Regan and the practice where he worked for negligence.
The jury returned a verdict form that asked whether Regan and his practice were "negligent and, if so, was that negligence a legal cause of injury" to Nichols. The jury foreman checked the box marked: "No."