FARMINGTON — Two expert witnesses gave different opinions Tuesday on Dr. Larry Labul’s treatment of the late Maxine Turner of Jay while she was at Franklin Memorial Hospital.

Their testimony came on the second day of a civil trial against Labul’s and the hospital, claiming they were negligent in caring for the 84-year-old woman in 2011. Justice William Stokes is presiding over the trial in Franklin County Superior Court, where a jury is hearing evidence.

Kelly Smith, personal representative of the estate of her grandmother, Maxine Turner of Jay, filed a lawsuit last year. The suit claims Labul treated Turner for chronic obstruction pulmonary disease rather than pneumonia.

According to testimony, it was unknown if Turner had pneumonia at the time of her death and no autopsy was done. Turner was released from FMH on Feb. 11 and was taken by private vehicle to a skilled nursing facility in Farmington where she died less than three hours later.

Turner had gone to the FMH emergency room on Feb. 3, 2011, after she had previously fallen asleep, fell out of her chair and bruised her ribs. The doctor who saw her recommended 24-hour care, deep breathing exercises and for family to monitor her condition in case pneumonia set in. When her breathing did not improve and she kept falling asleep, Smith was advised to take her grandmother to see Labul to see if she had pneumonia, to reconcile her medications and to see if any of them were causing her to be so sleepy.

According to testimony, Turner had a myriad of medical conditions that included lung diseases, restless leg syndrome, coronary artery failure and congestive heart failure.


Dr. Thomas Masterson, a hospitalist at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton, Md., an expert witness for Turner’s estate, testified that in his opinion, taking into account all information available, Labul’s treatment contributed to Turner’s death. He also said there were some violations of standard of care. However, he also said several parts of Labul’s treatment were appropriate.

Masterson said that in 2005 when a test was done, there was no sign of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The medical history record put up Tuesday on a screen in the courtroom did not show that Turner had the disease, but Labul was treating her for it. A document shown on the projector screen on Monday listed the disease as one of Turner’s conditions.

Masterson also testified that the dosage of Requip, used to treat restless leg syndrome and Parkinson’s disease, had doubled after Turner arrived at the hospital on Feb. 8, 2008. He said that the doubled dosage would have been used to treat Parkinson’s disease but was too high for restless leg syndrome. He believed that the medicine contributed to the hallucinations that Turner had in the hospital.

Turner had hallucinations prior to being admitted to the hospital, according to testimony.

Dr. Joseph Zibrak, a pulmonologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston, testified as an expert witness for the defense. He said Labul’s medical treatment of Turner did not contribute to her death. He also said there is a relationship between emphysema and a history of chronic bronchitis, which Turner had, and both are forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Zibrak also testified that he did not believe Turner’s death was related to pneumonia because of evidence he saw on medical records and because her death was sudden.


He also didn’t believe the failure to make sure an echocardiogram was done was related to cause of death. Labul had ordered one but it was not done before Turner was discharged from the hospital.

There is evidence that when Turner arrived by private vehicle at Orchard Park that her oxygen saturation was 92 to 94 percent, Zibrak said. She had been on oxygen for a number of years. She was alert, according to nursing reports, and was not interested in dinner and sounds like she had productive interactions with staff, he said.

Turner’s outcome would not have been different is she wasn’t discharged from the hospital, Zibrak said.

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