Fayette County

A ‘botched surgery’ led nurse to sue Lexington hospital where she worked for 20 years

University of Kentucky Hospital
University of Kentucky Hospital Lexington Herald-Leader

A former University of Kentucky nurse is suing the hospital after surgeons allegedly severed tubes critical for urinating.

Andrea Brandenburg, 45, filed the medical-malpractice lawsuit this week in Fayette Circuit Court against several doctors, a nurse and UK Hospital.

Brandenburg, a nurse who worked 20 years at UK, was diagnosed with colon cancer in September 2017. She underwent a bowel resection surgery at UK on Sept. 29, 2017.

The suit claims that both ureters were cut during the surgery, and that the severing led to a series of complications and other surgeries and procedures. A ureter is a tube that carries urine from a kidney to the bladder.

“Had the surgery been performed properly and in accordance with medical standards, neither of the ureters would have been cut,” the complaint said.

“UK takes its responsibility to provide quality care to its patients seriously, but it has not yet received a copy of any complaint, and our policy is not to comment on active litigation,” university spokesman Jay Blanton said Wednesday.

“We believe the defendants departed from the standard of care and we believe the evidence we’ll present, including expert testimony, will firmly establish that,” said Richard Getty, one of Brandenburg’s lawyers.

In order to prove a medical malpractice case, the person who is suing must prove a failure to conform to accepted practice and standard of care.

The suit says that “because of the botched surgery,” it was necessary to postpone the start of Brandenburg’s chemotherapy until Nov. 24, 2017, a month later than originally planned and nearly two months after the bowel resection surgery.

Brandenburg also claims that she was physically unable to return to work after the surgeries, and that she was required to leave her employment at UK in early 2018.

She was “then left with no other choice than to apply for Social Security disability and long-term disability. As an industrious 45-year-old mother of two daughters, being unable to work was and is particularly emotionally and financially challenging,” the suit says.

In addition to UK, the suit names as defendants Drs. Sandra Jones Beck, Justin Peterson, Luis F. Acosta Briceno, and registered nurse Jennifer Tavitian, plus 10 “unknown defendants” whose identities will become known as the litigation progresses.

A law approved in 2017 requires Kentuckians to file malpractice claims to a review panel before they can file suits in court.

A Franklin Circuit Court judge struck down the law as unconstitutional in October but the Kentucky Court of Appeals allowed the law to go into effect while the state Supreme Court decides if it is legal.

In the meantime, Brandenburg’s attorneys have asked Fayette Circuit Court Judge Ernesto Scorsone to “stay” or halt the requirement to file with a medical review panel until the Supreme Court makes a decision.

The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments in August and is expected to rule in a few months.