The family of a Midstate state woman who died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center has filed a lawsuit against the hospital.

They're suing VUMC after a resident mistakenly punctured an artery while the patient was recovering from a kidney infection.

Brett Keefer's mother, Chesta Shoemaker dedicated her life to being a nurse. She was an RN for more than 20 years.

“An amazing woman, had an excellent spirit. She was the type of woman who was always excited about life,” said Keefer. “Passion for helping people, healing, being there for people when they're down.”

Shoemaker went to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with a kidney infection and was admitted to the ICU. Keefer said his mom had made tremendous improvements during her stay at the hospital until April 13, 2017.

“A doctor tried to place a central line and had inadvertently punctured her carotid artery. She was under sedation at that time,” Keefer said.

Keefer said when the artery was punctured, it cut off blood circulation to her brain.

“They tried what they could to restore blood flow to her brain, but the damage was already done,” he said.

Shoemaker was pulled off life support and died.

The lawsuit claims Chesta Shoemaker was the patient of Dr. Gretchen Edwards, and that Dr. Edwards was participating in a residency program at Vanderbilt in April 2017.

The lawsuit said Dr. Edwards "was not experienced enough to be permitted to attempt the procedure without supervision" and that Dr. Edwards “did not tell Ms. Shoemaker she was a resident.”

“They presented her as board certified, experienced. I was under the impression that she was an experienced doctor,” Keefer said. “Never did they make it aware to me that she was a resident, and doing this unsupervised.”

The lawsuit seeks damages ranging from $15 million to $30 million.

Brian Cummings is the attorney representing Shoemaker’s family.

 “Vanderbilt is who let her be in that position, rather than having a having a more trained physician doing something so important,” Cummings said. “This resident made a mistake, and also didn't know enough to recognize her mistake. If this resident had caught her mistake with any kind of promptness, this wouldn't have been an outcome that led to death.”

In a statement from VUMC, John Howser, chief communications officer said, "Because this matter is the subject of pending litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment.”

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Edward Burch joined News4 at a reporter in December 2016. Edward currently covers growth stories in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

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