Discharged Young Snowboarder Dies of Internal Bleeding; Hospital Sued

Wayne J. Guglielmo, MA

August 31, 2021

If gross negligence can be proven, a Denver hospital may be ordered to pay as much as $10 million in a case involving the care of a young man seriously injured in a snowboarding accident, as reported in a story on TV station KDVR in Denver, Colorado.

Last November, 24-year-old Joshua Brumm fell on a rock while snowboarding in Vail, Colorado, and damaged his left kidney and several other organs. Taken first to Vail Health Hospital, Brumm was soon airlifted to Denver Health Medical Center, where, after 8 days of trying to staunch his internal bleeding, doctors finally removed his kidney.

They apparently believed they had fixed the source of his problem, although Brumm continued to require blood transfusions after surgery. Nevertheless, 4 days later, he was released from the hospital and was placed in his mother's care.

Almost immediately, signs indicated all was not well. In the hospital parking lot, Brumm started bleeding through his thick surgical pads and into his shirt. When his mother flagged down a hospital nurse, the nurse reportedly replied, "Oh, looks like he sprung a leak."

Seven hours later, while at a friend's house, Brumm became dizzy and lost his vision. His friend called 911, and Brumm was taken by paramedics to nearby Platte Valley Medical Center, where an emergency department doctor pronounced him dead. The doctor then made a courtesy call to Denver Health to convey what had happened.

Hollynd Hoskins, Esq, is the attorney representing the Brumm family. According to him, Denver Health and its doctors were grossly negligent in failing to take the necessary steps — including exploratory surgery — to identify the source of the patient's continuing bleeding. (Lab tests and other tests indicated that he was still bleeding internally.)

"If they had done their job, Joshua Brumm would be here with us today," Hoskins said.

Further complicating matters, Hoskins contends, the paperwork regarding Brumm's hospital stay and discharge were not completed until after he had died. On the day following his death, doctors noted on his release document, "On the day of discharge the patient's pain was well controlled with Tylenol." A day after this, 6 days following the surgery to remove his kidney, the doctor who'd performed the procedure signed her postoperative note.

Given the timing of the paperwork, Hoskins claims that the hospital and staff engaged in a post-death cover-up.

Denver Health disputes this. In a statement, it categorically denied that "there was a cover-up in this incident" and that it had failed to take the necessary steps after being notified of Brumm's death. It said it conducted an internal investigation and reported the incident to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), as required by state law in certain instances. Denver Health also noted that CDPHE "expressly found that this was not an event which needed to be reported."

Ordinarily under Colorado law, a publicly owned facility such as Denver Health can't be sued for more than $350,000. The law makes an exception, however, if a claim of gross negligence can be proven. If that happens in this case, Denver Health faces liability of up to $10 million — well in excess of the state medical malpractice cap for public entities.

This Toddler Should Not Have Died, Jury Says

A Missouri jury has awarded $3 million to the parents of a boy who died after his rare disease went undetected by an urgent care clinic, according to a story in the Springfield News-Leader, among other news outlets.

On June 5, 2017, Kassie McAtee brought her 1-year-old son, Kyler George, to an urgent care center in Branson, Missouri, run by CoxHealth, a not-for-profit healthcare system headquartered in Springfield. Pale and lethargic, the toddler was treated for an ear infection and was sent home. Hours later, he died from what was later determined to be Kawasaki disease, a disease that causes inflammation in the blood vessels, particularly the coronary arteries.

This was not the first time the clinic had failed to detect the child's underlying problem, his parents claimed in their suit. Several months earlier, they said, a CoxHealth clinic treated Kyler for pneumonia and again sent him home without identifying his Kawasaki disease.

Following the jury decision, Kassie McAtee commented in a news release issued by her attorneys: "This award has sent a clear message to CoxHealth that the public demands a better standard of care for every infant and child."

For its part, CoxHealth said that although its "sympathies remain with the family," it disagreed with the decision: "After a thorough review, we believe the care given in this situation was appropriate. This belief is also supported by external experts in the field."

The original $3 million award has since been reduced to $1.8 million, in accordance with a Missouri law that limits damages in medical malpractice cases. As of press time, there was no word as to whether CoxHealth would appeal.

Doctor to Patient: Sure, I've Been Vaccinated! Doctors Who Lie About Their Vaccine Status Can Be Disciplined

As the threat from the Delta variant of COVID-19 increases and states and the federal government mull updated mask and vaccine mandates, the question arises: Do medical professionals who lie about their vaccine status place themselves — not to mention their patients — in jeopardy?

Yes, says a report on CBS channel WBNS, in Columbus, Ohio.

Like others who lie about their vaccine status, doctors who do so place themselves at risk of state charges, federal charges, or both, depending on the circumstances, says Jade L. Robinson, an attorney at Faruki PLL, a law firm in Cincinnati.

For instance, a medical professional in Ohio who is found to be carrying a fake vaccine card could be subject to state forgery charges. If that card also includes a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention logo, he or she could also be subject to federal forgery charges, which could lead to fines and possibly jail time.

These professionals also leave themselves vulnerable to other risks, including a medical malpractice suit. Although the State Medical Board of Ohio has no rule that specifically addresses doctors' vaccine status, it could take disciplinary action if evidence shows that a healthcare practitioner has made "a false, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading statement." Such actions could include suspension or loss of a license to practice medicine.

Much depends on the circumstances of the individual case, but common sense suggests that all medical professionals should be forthright when it comes to revealing whether or not they've been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.

Wayne J. Guglielmo, MA, is an independent journalist based in Mahwah, New Jersey.

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