Bill Paxton’s family files wrongful death lawsuit against surgeon and hospital

Bill Paxton passed away almost one year ago at 61, on February 25, 2017. It seems like it wasn’t that long ago. He died after suffering a stroke 11 days after heart valve replacement and aorta surgery at Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles. Paxton’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the surgeon who operated on him and the hospital, alleging that the procedure was high risk, that the surgeon lacked experience and that Paxton’s death was preventable. The hospital, citing HIPAA laws, has not commented.

The family of Bill Paxton believes his death last year was preventable, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family against the hospital and surgeon who treated the late actor…

Paxton’s family alleges the surgeon used “a high risk and unconventional surgical approach with which he lacked experience” and that the hospital and surgeon, “misrepresented and/or concealed information relating to the risks of surgery,” according to the suit…

“Bill Paxton and his family trusted the physicians and staff at this medical facility but instead Cedars-Sinai betrayed their trust,” the family’s attorney Bruce Broillet said in a statement. “The surgeon’s actions resulted in this tragic and preventable death.”

In a statement, Cedars-Sinai said state and federal privacy laws prohibit it from “commenting about patient care without written authorization.” But, the statement added, “Nothing is more important to Cedars-Sinai than the health and safety of our patients.”

“These remain our top priorities,” the statement said. “One of the reasons for our high quality is that we thoroughly review concerns about any patient’s medical care. This process ensures that we can continue to provide the highest quality care.”
Paxton’s death certificate officially lists his cause of death as stroke after heart surgery.

[From CNN]

I saw this covered on CBS This Morning and their expert said that the surgery performed on Paxton, while less common, “is certainly within the realm of safety.” They also mentioned that the surgeon wasn’t at the hospital when Paxton suffered complications but that he left his position there shortly after the actor died.

I’ve heard so many stories about people having life-threatening complications and sometimes dying after surgeries that it’s enough to make you wish your loved ones would avoid them. I hope that Paxton’s family is able to get some answers about his death and some justice. I’m not saying the hospital or doctor was at fault, just that his family will hopefully get some closure. Paxton leaves behind a wife of 30 years, Louise, and son James, 23, an actor, and daughter Lydia, 20, a student at Duke University. He was so beloved and was such a skilled actor. So many of us who didn’t even know him personally still feel his loss.




Photos credit: WENN, Fame/Flynet, PRPhotos

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31 Responses to “Bill Paxton’s family files wrongful death lawsuit against surgeon and hospital”

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  1. TaniaOG says:

    I wonder if he had a TAVI done, where they try to do the procedure without cutting open the chest. From my experience, those procedures never seem to go well.

    • Katydid20 says:

      That was my guess when they said it was a “maverick” cardiac procedure. It’s variable whether you even need a surgeon present for those. I hope they get the answers they want. But surgery is never without risks. It’s why we have everyone sign a consent form.

      • Imqrious2 says:

        H was a great actor, and by all accounts, a really nice man, too. I hope his family finds peace and closure.

        My mom, at age 49, died during a surgery, where a vein was nicked, bled and retracted, so it couldn’t be found, and she ended up bleeding out. It just felt so senseless. It’s not easy to lose someone you love, and in an instance like this, to try and make sense of it. It’s been 35 years since she died, and while I’ve made peace with it all, it just still doesn’t make “sense”, if you know what I mean.

      • Harryg says:

        I’m so sorry, Imqrious.

      • Imqrious2 says:

        Thank you, Harryg ❤️

    • Hazel says:

      My 82-year-old dad had that surgery. In on a Thursday, home by Saturday. Everything went smoothly. He had to have four heart surgeons OK his suitability for the surgery. Bad things happen sometimes to good people. I feel for the Paxton family.

  2. Esmom says:

    Sigh, so awful. Surgery does carry a lot more risk than many people realize, I think. But it sounds like this wasn’t a surgery he could have avoided. RIP. And wishing his family peace.

  3. kNY says:

    I feel terrible for the family. I have been in a similar position and what released me of all anger and frustration was accepting NOTHING could bring him back. Nothing. There was no point rehashing anything, retracing steps, etc. Pin-pointing a problem, a person (if there truly was one), would be the emptiest goal. I get that it’s different for everyone, though.

    • xena says:

      I know what you mean, it is just that suing is sadly often the only way of getting doctors and hospitals to really pay attention and to see mistakes and to modify practices. It’s more for preventing other patients of the same faith and for informing people than for revenge, I hope.

      • carol says:

        How can you reliably say a mistake is made?? Stroke is 100% a risk with valve replacement surgery, and while it can try to be prevented with blood thinners you can’t go overboard on that either or they have bleed risks. Don’t assume that doctors and hospitals “do not pay attention” Cedars Sinai is a world-class hospital. These hospitals have morbidity and mortality reports (M&Ms) over such cases regularly to learn from them. it is offensive as a healthcare professional for you to say that doctors do not pay attention. They do.

      • Jag says:

        With all due respect, carol, look at the number of medical errors that happen in hospitals yearly. Even “world class hospitals” can have problems. The fact that the surgeon stepped down after Paxton died tells me a lot.

        There’s a reason patients are suggested to write “left” and “right” on their limbs when having surgery on one or the other. I actually should have done that, but thankfully was coherent enough that when my surgeon started prepping my right knee for surgery, I was able to object and tell him that the left one had the injury. And he worked at one of the best hospitals in the country as well, in addition to having his own private practice.

      • Lua says:

        There are lots of errors, even at the best hospitals. This is coming from someone at one of the top hospitals in the world. There are measures in place to prevent them, but humans make errors. Most lawsuits are statistically done to ensure a change in the system to prevent errors from happening again. Not for revenge or financial gain as many assume.

      • Merritt says:

        @Jag and Lua

        While errors happen, in this case he died over a week after the surgery. He did not die on the operating table or immediately after the surgery.

  4. Jayna says:

    Great man. He and his wife were together for like 30 years, two great kids. I loved him on Big Love.

    • anniefannie says:

      2 friends of mine were visiting the Twister set in OK. Bill ended up hanging out with them. My friend mentioned she was from Kansas City, Bill asked about the live music scene
      ( she was a bartender ) so was very familiar.
      He ended up staying 2 days in KC and having a ball w/my friends. What’s notable is he never fired on either of my gorgeous friends!
      He was super friendly, funny, end of. We laugh about it occasionally, but also mourn
      that a gentleman is such a rarity

    • Hazel says:

      That made me tear up. Thank you for the link.

  5. Merritt says:

    Obviously I don’t know all the details of his surgery, but post-surgery complications are a reality for any surgery. Complications don’t mean that the surgeon did something wrong. And since it was cardiac, he might have died without the surgery too.

  6. Christin says:

    Such a sad story. Surgery is risky, and complications can occur. I know a man who died in his early 60s a couple of weeks after a knee replacement (blood clot). Another lady has battled blindness and other issues from a stroke that was a complication of back surgery. A stroke is what occurred in Bill’s situation as well.

    • lucy2 says:

      A family friend died after knee replacement too. Be careful with your pain medication, including over the counter stuff.

      • hotlanta says:

        Long time lurker here but usually never comment. I just wanted to say that post-knee and hip surgery people often throw blood clots. It is important to be on a blood thinner along with appropriate pain medications.

  7. m says:

    See his the movie he directed called Frailty it was great also a movie One False Move he just acted in that one but both were amazing

  8. carol says:

    I’m a medical student–I am going to be honest here, he was 61 and had a heart valve replaced–so he probably had a bicuspid aortic valve. The heart cannot work as well in that situation because blood isn’t getting past the valve to the aorta, the heart hypertrophies to compensate. I don’t want to be mean, but I feel like the average person doesn’t understand how dangerous surgery is. This is cardiothoracic surgery–while he seems healthy, that is a very risky surgery. Strokes are a risk with this type of surgery–the sutures used, the type of valve to replace the damaged patient’s…they all have pros and cons. I just get frustrated when people try to blame doctors for outcomes that are…well, in the disclosure. Obviously no one wants these things to happen, but surgery is a risk.

    • Lightpurple says:

      Surgery is risky, no matter how healthy the patient, no matter how routine the procedure is. I needed emergency gallbladder removal last year. A friend had had the procedure two weeks earlier, scheduled not emergency & all went well for her. My boyfriend had it 3 years ago and all went well for him. Everything was explained to me, 4 small incisions, length of procedure, return home the next day, length of recovery at home, risks of anesthesia, risks of the surgery itself. All did not go well. I came to 6 hours than I expected I would with tubes everywhere. In addition to the 4 small incisions, I had a huge one. My gallbladder had refused to leave and had affected multiple other organs. 5 hours of surgery. A week in the hospital. Mercifully, I tolerated the anesthesia well because I don’t want to think what would have happened with all those incisions if I was as sick from the anesthesia as some others on the floor were. I’m fine now and none of it was anyone’s fault. But when I hear about people going for surgical procedures that aren’t medically necessary, I think they’re insane to take such risks.

  9. Harryg says:

    He was just lovely.

  10. Stacy Dresden says:

    I miss Bill Paxton. I loved his acting.

  11. Rebecca says:

    It seems like famous people and/or their relatives sue doctors more often than the average person. Maybe it just seems that way because their stories are in the media. If I were a doctor, I think I would avoid treating famous people. It could cost them their career and ruin their reputation for good.

  12. Patricia says:

    Great actor. One of my favourite movies is Simple Plan where he worked with Billy Bob Thornton and Bridget Fonda.

  13. marianne says:

    I feel bad for the family. They’re sad and looking for a reason as to why he passed. As to why they didnt have more time with them. But at the same time, I doubt the doctor was at fault. Complications can arise from any medical procedure and Im sure he was told of the risks beforehand. Hell, he probably had to sign a waiver. I know they’re upset but suing the doctor isnt going to bring him back.

  14. detta says:

    This loss still hurts. He always seemed to be one of the good ones and to me personally one of those true stars who bring their best to every project, one of the names that made me watch stuff just cause he was in it, ever since the mid 80s. One of the lights in an industry that has many dark aspects. Hope his family will get answers and some closure.

  15. Citresse says:

    Any surgery can be risky. The body is a complex system. Age and smoking adds risk.