St. Mark’s Hospital in Millcreek, Utah recently came under fire when the family of Donnamay Brockbank filed a medical malpractice suit alleging her death was preventable.
Few people actually look forward to undergoing medical procedures, especially surgeries. Despite this hesitation, though, many people go into surgery with the belief they will be well cared for and looked after. Unfortunately, mistakes happen. Just ask the family of Utah woman who died while undergoing heart surgery. According to the family of Donnamay Brockbank, she died back on July 11, 2018, at St. Mark’s Hospital in Millcreek, Utah after “doctors failed to close a tube and allowed her blood to drain into a medical waste garbage can.”
What happened, though? How did such a mistake occur? For starters, Brockbank was undergoing heart surgery to “remove a heart device that was causing an allergic reaction,” according to the suit, which was filed in the Third Judicial District Court in Salt Lake City. As part of the surgery, Brockbank’s medical team had to perform a cardiopulmonary bypass. During the procedure, “blood left Brockbank’s body through a tube connected to her neck, went through a blood reservoir, and re-entered through her femur.” However, when the surgery was completed, “the tube and needle – or cannula – connected to Brockbank’s neck remained” unclamped. Then, when a technician “removed the blood reservoir from the bypass machine and put it in a medical waste garbage can, Brockbank’s heart pumped blood into it.”
Her anesthesiologist, Dr. Kyle Enslin, was in the room at the time and noticed Brockbank’s vitals were beginning to drop, so he called Karwande back to the room. Unfortunately, “by the time Karwande did return, Brockbank was already in severe distress because all of her blood had drained into the reservoir that was sitting in the garbage can,” the suit states. In an effort to try and save her, Brockbank’s medical team began “pumping seven units of blood into Brockbank to try and save her, but it was leaving her body through the tube” because they didn’t realize the tube was still open. Eventually, her heart gave out and she died.
When commenting on the case, Rand Nolen, the lawyer representing the family, said Brockbank’s doctors “performed transfusions that added seven pints of blood to her veins. But the tube continued to funnel blood into the medical waste garbage can.”
In response to the suit, St. Mark’s Hospital issued the following statement:
“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 to continuously improve the quality and safety of the care we provide throughout the hospital.”
The suit names a variety of hospital departments and individuals as defendants, including St. Mark’s Hospital, Dr. Shreekanth V. Karwande (one of Brockbank’s surgeons), MountainStar Cardiovascular Surgery, SpecialtyCare Cardiovascular Resources, and anesthesiologist Kyle Enslin. Brockbank’s family alleges in the suit that would still be alive if the doctors had noticed the unclamped tube in time.