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Joshua Brumm dies after kidney surgery at Denver Health

Denver Health Medical Center has received legal notice of a potential $10 million lawsuit for the death of a 24-year-old Beaver Creek ski school instructor Joshua Brumm .

An autopsy report obtained by FOX31 shows that Joshua Brumm died Dec. 2 from internal bleeding.

His death came just hours after he was discharged from Denver Health, following a 12-day hospital stay.

“A 24-year-old should not go into the hospital because of a kidney injury and die,” said his mother, Lynn Brumm, in an exclusive interview with the Problem Solvers.

Brumm was airlifted to Denver Health on Nov. 20 from Vail Health Hospital after injuring his left kidney when he fell onto a rock while snowboarding.

Doctors in Vail hoped Denver Health, a level I trauma center, could save Brumm’s kidney, but following eight days of internal bleeding, a Denver Health surgery team removed it on Nov. 28.

What was done after Brumm’s kidney removal?

Hollynd Hoskins, a medical malpractice attorney representing the Brumm family, said medical records show hospital staff never did any further imaging after Brumm’s kidney surgery to determine if his internal bleeding had stopped.

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

Hoskins said the hospital should’ve done exploratory surgery to find the source of Brumm’s internal bleeding since he continued to need blood transfusions, even after the Nov. 28 surgery.

“Objective testing and blood laboratory results showed that he was bleeding internally. Denver Health needed to take him to the operating room, find the bleeding and stop it and they failed to do so,” said Hoskins.

Brumm was released to his mother’s care on Dec. 2, though Lynn Brumm remembered being apprehensive when she picked up her son in the hospital parking lot.

“When I got out of the car he was already bleeding through his shirt, through his really thick dressing pads and the nurse just said ‘Oh looks like he sprung a leak,’” she said.

Lynn took her son to a friend’s house in Brighton and said some seven hours later he became dizzy and lost his vision. In the 911 call, obtained by the Problem Solvers, you hear the operator ask, “How old is the person having the seizure?”

The family friend who called 911 responded, “24, he just got out the hospital today.”

Recording Brumm’s death in hospital records

Paramedics would take Brumm to Platte Valley Medical Center where an emergency room doctor pronounced Joshua Brumm dead at 8:38 p.m.

Emergency Room records from Platte Valley Medical center show the ER Doctor called Denver Health at 9:21 p.m. and according to his notes wrote, “A courtesy call was given to Denver Health trauma service: Dr. Cohen was made aware of the patient’s passing.”

Dr. Mitchel Cohen was the Director of Surgery for Denver Health at the time.  A spokeswoman for Denver Health told the Problem Solvers that Dr. Cohen never reporter Brumm’s death to the Department of Patient Safety and Quality inside of Denver Health.

As a result, Denver Health didn’t report Brumm’s death to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) for more than five months until it was contacted from someone at CDPHE on May 7.

Dr. Cohen no longer works for Denver Health but a spokeswoman insisted his departure had nothing to do with the Joshua Brumm case.

CDPHE was made aware of Brumm’s death by Hoskins, the attorney representing Brumm’s family. CDPHE completed a complaint survey on Feb. 5 and found zero deficiencies, but a spokesman for CDPHE acknowledged his department doesn’t have jurisdiction to second guess medical decisions by doctors unless it appears to be a systemic issue that comes up repeatedly.

“I’m angry obviously. Crushed that (Denver Health) just couldn’t keep him a few more days,” said Lynn Brumm. “If he had coded in that hospital bed, there would’ve been hospital staff doing CPR on him instead of his mother because that will haunt me until the day I die.”

Brumm’s family continues the search for answers

Joshua Brumm’s oldest sister Morgan described her brother as, “My absolute best friend.” She wears a locket around her neck that includes a picture of the two. She also has his fingerprint stamped on a piece of silver she wears around her neck.

Friends wore flannel at Joshua’s funeral to honor his favorite clothing and wrote final messages on his casket in memory of a person who always made time for others.

“I could call him and he was at work and he would answer me. It could be 2 a.m. and he answered me. He was always there for me,” his sister said.

Joshua’s father, Scott Brumm, told the FOX31 Problem Solvers he wants answers from Denver Health, including why doctors told the family Joshua wouldn’t be released before Dec. 5 following his kidney surgery but was then suddenly released Dec. 2.

“It surprised me when he called and said, They’re letting me go today.’ I’m like, ‘What? They said minimum Friday, why?’” Scott Brumm recalled.

Joshua’s father also doesn’t understand why medical records show his son was given blood thinners like Lovenox when he remembered a doctor telling his son early on that he shouldn’t be given any blood thinners.

“I think there were procedures that were missed,” said Scott Brumm. His ex-wife Lynn Brumm is more blunt, “They were hoping to sweep it under the rug.”

Denver Health accused of a cover up

The Brumms and their attorney find it curious that Joshua’s discharge paperwork wasn’t signed by doctors until Dec. 3, the day after he died. The document reads in part, “On the day of discharge the patient’s pain was well-controlled with Tylenol.”

The doctor who removed Joshua’s kidney on Nov. 28, didn’t sign her post-operation notes until six days later on Dec. 4 – two days after Joshua died.

“Where the doctors and the surgeon don’t complete their operative note and the discharge summary until after they learned about Joshua’s death and the way that those reports were written to go out of their way that Joshua Brumm was fine, really raises serious concerns that there was a post death cover-up,” said Hoskins.

Denver Health suggested to FOX31 that only Dr. Cohen knew of Joshua’s death before the discharge papers and the post-surgery report were written, although he didn’t sign either.

Lynn Brumm said she finds it inconceivable that he didn’t tell other doctors who had treated Joshua.

“When months after they told us they didn’t know, that Denver Health did not know (of Joshua’s death). They knew, they knew,” she said.

Joshua Brumm funeral

Denver Health responds to the Problem Solvers

Denver Health provided the Problem Solvers a statement in June that reads in part, “Denver Health is conducting a thorough review of the care provided to Mr. Brumm. As this is a pending legal matter, we are unable to discuss any further details about the  incident at this time.”

On Friday, July 2, the medical system sent the Problem Solvers an updated statement that reads:

“We are deeply saddened about the tragic death of Joshua Brumm. Our hearts go out to his family and friends during this challenging time. The safety and well-being of our patients is our top priority at Denver Health, and we make every effort to ensure they receive the best care possible. After another facility notified us of his death, Denver Health conducted a thorough and immediate review of the care provided to Mr. Brumm. Denver Health complied with State regulatory requirements, and the incident was reported by Denver Health to CDPHE. After conducting a review, CDPHE had no findings regarding the incident, including with respect to the timing of when the report was submitted.”

While the statement from Denver Health says it conducted an “immediate review” of Brumm’s care after it was notified of his death on Dec. 2, it should be noted a hospital spokesperson told FOX31 Denver Health conducted no review before May 7, 2021 because only Dr. Mitchel was aware of Brumm’s passing, not staff from the department of Patient Safety and Quality who would conduct the review. In addition, Denver Health’s statement offers no conclusion as to whether it believes Joshua Brumm received adequate patient care.

Denver Health billed Joshua’s insurance company more than a half-a-million dollars for Joshua’s care. Under Colorado law, Denver Health Medical Center enjoys a level of government immunity because it’s considered a publicly-owned entity, which normally means it can’t be sued for more than $350,000 dollars.

Attorney Hollynd Hoskins nonetheless intends to seek $10 million dollars because she said Colorado law allows an exception to the state medical malpractice cap for public entities, if gross negligence can be proven.

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