Late ‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Brayden Smith’s Parents File Lawsuit Over His Death

by Taylor Cunningham

The parents of Jeopardy! champion Brayden Smith are suing two Nevada hospitals nearly one year after their son’s death.

Brayden, who was host Alex Trebek’s “last great champion” passed of blood clots to his lungs on February 5th, 2021. The clots formed three weeks after the former contestant underwent colorectal surgery.

On Monday (Jan. 10th), The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that his parents, Scott and Debbie Smith, are taking legal action against two hospitals in their hometown of Henderson, Nevada.

The Smiths filed the suits against Dignity Health—which is where Brayden had his surgery—and St. Rose Dominican Hospital, Siena campus. The medical malpractice claim also targets Fidelity Home Health Services, two physicians, and the St. Rose nursing staff.

Brayden Smith suffered from ulcerative colitis. And he fell ill in 2019. Brayden then spent time in the hospital in December 2020 and January 2021.

“He was malnourished, was extremely weak, and was a very ill young man,” reads the lawsuit. “His last days were a nightmare. His death was preordained by the misconduct of doctors and nurses. None of this had to be.”

When doctors could no longer help Brayden with non-invasive treatments, they suggested he needed an abdominal colectomy with an end ileostomy, which removes a patient’s colon. And he agreed.

The ‘Jeopardy!’ Champion’s Treatment ‘Fell Below the Standard of Care’

According to the lawsuit, Dr. Godwin Ofikwu offered to write Brayden a prescription for ‘anticoagulation’ drugs to ensure that no blood clots formed following the procedure. However, lawyers found no evidence that Ofikwu actually ordered the drugs.

And shortly after his surgery, the Jeopardy! champion developed pulmonary emboli—or blood clots on the lungs.

The Smiths hired a team of medical experts to investigate the malpractice. One of those experts is California-based colon and rectal surgeon Kevin Beiermeister.

Dr. Beiermeister and his colleagues confirmed that Brayden’s treatment “fell below the standard of care.”

“It appears that Brayden was not given any anticoagulants at all,” Beiermeister said before adding that “in a surgery such as this, the standard of care requires both mechanical and chemical anticoagulation.”

The doctor also noted that all colectomy patients should take anticoagulants and prescribing them is a standard treatment.

‘The medical literature is clear that patients undergoing colorectal surgery as compared to general surgery have a significant increase in the risk of emboli,’ he wrote. “The nursing notes do not indicate that anyone on the nursing staff inquired as to this issue.”

Tara Bohannon, a California-based nurse, also found that Brayden went home without proper post-operation instructions.

“He did not go home with sufficient knowledge,” she wrote in her declaration. “And it is my understanding that this was significantly frustrating to Brayden.  He also did not go home with sufficient and proper supplies.”

As of today, the hospital has not reviewed the case yet. And because of that, it is unable to comment, according to the Daily Mail.