Young Jeopardy! Winner’s Parents File Medical Malpractice Suit

After a five-day winning streak on Jeopardy!, Brayden Smith walked away with an impressive $115,798. Brayden had graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and interned at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. He had hoped to attend law school. However, Brayden passed away in February 2021, weeks after a colectomy.

Victoria Langley, J.D.

Written by
— Updated on February 1, 2022

Young Jeopardy! Winner’s Parents File Medical Malpractice Suit

Now, Brayden’s parents, Scott and Deborah Smith have filed a lawsuit in Clark County District Court against the hospital, doctors, nurses, and others. The lawsuit alleges the defendants failed to meet the standard of care after Brayden’s surgery.

At the heart of the lawsuit is the doctors’ failure to prescribe a blood thinner to prevent blood clots. Brayden’s parents also claimed the nursing staff failed to help him navigate his new condition and medical equipment.

Brayden’s Surgery and Death

In January 2021, 24-year-old Brayden underwent surgery to remove his colon due to ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. The surgery left Brayden with a stoma, an opening in the abdomen that allows a person to divert their urine or feces outside their body, collecting it in a pouch.

The hospital sent Brayden home after his colectomy. Ten days later, he collapsed. He then went to the hospital by ambulance, during which time the emergency responders resuscitated him. However, Brayden died on February 5, 2021, due to pulmonary emboli, blood clots in his lungs.

Brayden’s Parents Sue Medical Providers for Malpractice

On January 10, 2022, the Smiths filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in the District Court of Clark County, Nevada, where Brayden resided. They listed the following as defendants: Godwin Ofikwu, MD, Irfana Razzaq, MD, the St. Rose Nursing Staff, Dignity Health d/b/a St. Rose Dominican Hospital – Siena Campus, Fidelity Home Health Services, LLC, Maria Ayda Charina Dy, RN, and unnamed individuals of Roe Corporation.

Wrongful Death

The first cause of action alleges wrongful death against Brayden’s doctors and hospital. The Smiths claimed Brayden’s death was because his doctors didn’t prescribe him heparin or another anticoagulant after surgery. The lack of an anticoagulant caused Brayden to develop fatal emboli, which is something that travels through the bloodstream and blocks a blood vessel.

A colon and rectal surgeon, retained by one of the parents’ attorneys, noted Dr. Ofikwu’s records state, “Anticoagulant already ordered.” However, there was no specific order for Heparin, Lovenox, or another anticoagulant. The surgeon reviewed all the relevant medical records. Following the review, the surgeon found that Brayden never received anticoagulants, which fell below the standard of care. In cases like this, the surgeon stated the standard of care would require chemical and mechanical anticoagulation to prevent emboli.

Medical Malpractice

The second cause of action alleges medical malpractice and professional negligence by the same doctors and hospital. The Smiths claimed the doctors’ failure to prescribe anticoagulants and the nurses’ failure to notice and suggest the medication were violations of the standard of care for patients who undergo a colectomy.

The Smiths also offered three expert opinions. All agreed the defendants failed to meet their standard of care and caused Brayden harm.

Additional Allegations

The Smiths alleged the hospital, a nurse, and Fidelity were negligent. According to the Smiths, they failed to properly teach and manage Brayden’s ostomy care. This included providing him with and helping him order supplies. Additionally, they allegedly failed to teach him how to care for and change his ostomy pouch.

They also claim:

  • Negligent hiring, retention, and supervision by the hospital and nursing provider
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress by the hospital, nurse, and nursing provider
  • Negligent referral by the hospital

Parents Demand Injunctive Relief

The complaint includes seven causes of action and asks for general damages, special damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, a damage enhancement, and interest.

However, Brayden’s parents are doing more than demanding compensation for their son’s pain, suffering, and death. The complaint claims that a new ostomy requires significant training and management. Yet, the hospital doesn’t provide patients with Enterostomal Therapists or sufficiently trained nurses. Because of this, they allege the hospital can’t ensure property care of these patients. Furthermore, they ask the hospital to stop St. Rose from performing ostomy surgeries until it can guarantee proper care.

An Expert’s Role in Medical Malpractice Cases

Experts will play a critical role in the Smiths’ lawsuit. They will establish the standard of care Brayden was entitled to and how his doctors and nurses failed to meet that standard. As with many medical negligence claims, the plaintiff’s experts strength and credibility will influence the outcome of the case.

Attorneys handling medical malpractice cases can find essential expert witnesses in the Expert Witness Specialty Index.

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