Jeopardy! Champion's Parents Sue Doctors, Hospital When Patient Dies After Colectomy

Alicia Gallegos


January 28, 2022

The parents of Jeopardy! winner Brayden Smith are suing a Las Vegas surgeon and a hospitalist for negligence after their son died following a colectomy.

Smith, who suffered from ulcerative colitis, underwent a colectomy on January 15, 2021, at St. Rose Dominican Hospital-San Martin Campus in Las Vegas. At the time, the 24-year-old man was malnourished, extremely weak, and was having more than 10 bloody bowel movements a day, according to a January 11, 2022, lawsuit filed by Smith's parents.

The allegations state that after the procedure, hospital staff did not provide Smith with anticoagulants and did not administer or suggest that Smith take anticoagulants upon his discharge on January 19. On January 29, 2021, Smith collapsed at home and his family called an ambulance. He was taken back to St. Rose where he died from bilateral pulmonary emboli.

Smith's legal complaint claims that treatment by Smith's surgeon, hospitalist, and nursing staff fell below the standard of care because they failed to administer anticoagulants following the surgery. After the surgery, Smith's surgeon referenced "DVT/VTE Prophylaxis/Anticoagulation" in the record and another note read "already ordered," according to Keith Beiermeister, MD, a colon and rectal surgeon retained by the Smiths' attorney, Robert E. Murdock. However, the order section of the notes included no specific order for heparin or Lovenox (enoxaparin). A hospitalist who cared for Smith after the surgery also mentioned "DVT Prophylaxis" in the progress notes, but the hospitalist did not order it nor ensure that anticoagulants were given, the lawsuit claims.

"In a surgery such as this, the standard of care requires both mechanical and chemical anticoagulation," Beiermeister wrote in the complaint. "This is especially true after colectomy and with Brayden's history. Anticoagulants and mechanical anticoagulation are needed to prevent emboli. The medical literature is clear that patients undergoing colorectal surgery as compared to general surgery have a significant increase in the risk of emboli. This is especially true with preexisting inflammation as is present in inflammatory bowel disease."

A spokesman for St. Rose said the hospital does not comment on pending litigation.

Smith was a five-time Jeopardy! winner and gained national fame during his championship run. In a statement, Jeopardy! officials said the Jeopardy! family was "heartbroken by the tragic loss of Brayden Smith" and that he "will be missed."


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