LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Five-time “Jeopardy!” champion Brayden Smith, 24, died from pulmonary emboli he received weeks after having his colon removed, his family writes in a lawsuit, claiming medical malpractice.
Deborah and Scott Smith said the actions of two doctors and the nursing staff at Dignity Health’s St. Rose Dominican Hospital – Siena Campus led to their son’s death last February.
Brayden Smith was among some of the last contestants to be on the popular game show prior to host Alex Trebek’s death. He won nearly $116,000 and was eligible for the show’s Tournament of Champions.
“To be around Alex, who has been sort of a mainstay in my life,” Brayden Smith said in an interview when his episodes aired in the fall of 2020. “To finally be on stage with somebody I’ve seen five nights a week, every week for over a decade, was really a dream come true.”
On Jan. 15, 2021, Brayden Smith underwent a colectomy – a colon removal surgery at St. Rose, the lawsuit said. He suffered from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease.
The lawsuit claims Brayden Smith was not given “heparin or anticoagulants post-surgery which was below the standard of care.” His parents also said, “Brayden developed pulmonary emboli,” which killed him.
The lawsuit names two doctors and one nurse individually.
“This has been one ordeal to the next and they’re hoping for justice,” the family’s attorney, Robert Murdock, told the I-Team’s David Charns on Tuesday.
The lawsuit claims doctors failed to give Brayden Smith the anti-clotting medication, leading to the development of the emboli that killed him.
Two weeks after the surgery, Brayden Smith collapsed in a bathroom, Murdock said.
“His father came in. The door was locked,” Murdock said. “His father basically had to push, break open the door, found Brayden on the floor and had to do CPR. Brayden was without oxygen for probably, I believe it’s 8 to 12 minutes.”
Brayden Smith died a few days later.
A doctor and a nurse provided their medical expertise in affidavits as part of the lawsuit. That doctor, who specializes in colon and rectal surgery, writes, “both of the doctors and nursing staff ‘dropped the ball’ on providing anticoagulants to Brayden.”
“In my opinion… Brayden’s death was a result of the breach of standard care…” he writes.
“People have this surgery every day. People move forward with their lives every day,” Murdock said. “There was no reason why Brayden had to die.”
Smith was a 2020 graduate of UNLV and planned to attend law school and become a lawyer for the government.
His obituary said he was “a lover of knowledge and an advocate for justice.”
A spokesperson for the hospital said leaders were reviewing the lawsuit and could not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit also alleges staff at St. Rose and through a separate home health service failed to provide Brayden Smith his adequate care post-surgery, including fitting him with the wrong equipment he needed to relieve himself.
In addition to the request for a jury trial, the lawsuit asks a judge to bar the hospital from performing similar surgeries until they “can properly care for new ostomates.”