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Family sues Utah hospital, claims negligence during surgery led to death of Vineyard woman

By Carter Williams, KSL.com | Posted - Jul 23rd, 2019 @ 10:15pm



SALT LAKE CITY — The family of a Vineyard woman who died during a surgical procedure last year has filed a lawsuit against a Salt Lake County hospital and multiple doctors, alleging negligence led to her death.

On July 10, several members of Donnamay Brockbank’s family — including her parents and children, or those representing them — filed a lawsuit in 3rd District Court against St. Mark’s Hospital, two staff members who assisted in an open-heart operation on Brockbank back on July 11, 2018, and two employers. Brockbank died during the surgery at the age of 62.

Doctors Shreekanth Karwande and Kyle Enslin, as well as the hospital, MountainStar Cardiovascular Surgery, LLC, and Tennessee-based Specialtycare Cardiovascular Resources, LLC, are listed as defendants in the lawsuit.

The document also shows plaintiffs are seeking an unspecified amount in special damages and general damages to be determined in a trial, punitive or exemplary damages, pre- or post-judgment interest, as well as attorney fees. They are represented by two law firms based in Provo and Texas.

In the lawsuit, the family alleges Brockbank bled to death and that Karwande and another doctor “failed to close or clamp” a tube or line carrying blood being pumped from her heart after the surgery was over. After they left the room, the family alleges the person who operated the heart-lung machine during the surgery, also known as a perfusionist, took a disposable venous-arterial reservoir — which is where blood is stored during surgery — and placed it in a medical waste garbage can after Brockbank’s heart was once again beating on its own.

Shortly after, Brockbank’s vitals began to collapse and she was “in severe distress because of her blood had drained into the reservoir that was sitting in the garbage can,” the lawsuit claims.

“None of the medical professionals in the operating room apparently noticed that there was now a full venous blood receptacle in the garbage can and that the cannula line was still open,” the lawsuit continues. “The surgical team pumped seven units of blood into Donnamay, but the fresh blood was not staying in her circulatory system and was instead traveling through the open cannula line into the reservoir sitting in the garbage can on the floor.”

She was later pronounced dead.

KSL.com reached out to St. Mark's Hospital hospital for comment. In a statement, Mark Robinson, the hospital's CEO, said: “Our hearts go out to Donnamay Brockbank’s family and we want to again express our sincerest condolences for their loss. We seek to learn from every patient situation in order to continuously improve the quality and safety of the care we provide throughout the hospital.”

Brockbank’s family claims she had a device placed in her heart in 2009 to correct a heart defect.However, the device contained nickel and she later suffered from effects related to a nickel allergy. The surgery, which includes placing the patient on cardiopulmonary bypass, was conducted on July 11, 2018, to remove the device.

In the lawsuit, the family alleges Karwande placed the tube in a vein that is connected to the heart, removed the device from Brockbank, left the operating room before closing the line that was emptying into the venous-arterial reservoir, didn’t ensure his assistant surgeon remained in the room and also “failed to timely discover that Donnamay was bleeding out through the cannula line.” It adds that MountainStar Cardiovascular Surgery, LLC, employed the two doctors named in the lawsuit and Specialtycare Cardiovascular Resources, LLC, employed the perfusionist, who was not listed as a defendant. It also listed the hospital because the lawsuit claims the hospital's surgical staff “failed to ensure patient safety" and its staff failed to respond in ways that could have preserved Brockbank's life, the document shows.

It added Enslin, an anesthesiologist, because he was “primarily responsible for the safety and well-being” of Brockbank before, during and after the surgery, and failed to notice the open line that drained Brockbank's blood into the disposed reservoir, among other actions and inactions noted.

According to Brockbank’s obituary, she is survived by her husband, parents, six siblings, four children, five step-children and 23 grandchildren.

“She was loving and kind to all she met, always striving to live a Christ centered life,” her obituary stated.

A trial date has not yet been determined.

Carter Williams

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