SEATTLE — A King County jury awarded $13 million to a patient left permanently disfigured after a “botched” surgery by a Burien cosmetic surgeon who has faced disciplinary action from the state medical board several times.
The jury found Dr. Kristine Brecht performed cosmetic surgeries on a patient, despite being a poor candidate, leading to “devastating” injuries, according to a news release from the patient’s attorneys.
Brecht and her Burien practice, Aesthetic Rejuvenation & Spa, has been at the center of several complaints filed with the Washington Medical Commission. The board suspended her license last month.
The surgeon, the July 2022 lawsuit claimed, performed a full-tummy tuck, arm-lift, breast-lift and liposuction on the patient, a poorly controlled diabetic, without screening. Brecht did not advise her about the risks of skin necrosis or advise her to quit smoking to ensure proper healing, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit said Brecht also used “Cinderella Anesthesia,” a makeshift alternative to general anesthesia that combines oxycodone and lorazepam, which caused memory loss. The surgeon used handcuffs and weights to restrain patients during surgery, the lawsuit alleged.
Brecht cut off too much skin, the patient’s lawyers claimed, creating excessive scarring. She also failed to timely address surgical-site infections or use appropriate postoperative care treatments, the news release said.
When the patient started to raise concerns, Brecht told her the patient’s “unique” skin and “innate” healing issues had caused the scarring and other difficulties, according to the lawsuit.
“A lot of people don’t realize that the medical profession is largely self-regulated, which makes it really hard for patients to figure out if their doctors are properly trained and competent until it is too late,” said Ruby Aliment, an attorney for the clients.
The jury awarded the patient $5 million for past damages and $6 million for future losses. The jury also awarded $2 million to her husband for loss of consortium, and $35,000 for the plaintiffs’ consumer fraud claim.
Brecht’s license was suspended last month after a hearing found she engaged in “unprofessional misconduct” by sedating several patients, despite not being licensed to do so. The commission order mandated strict monitoring and oversight upon reinstatement after a five-year suspension.
Two years prior, the commission also found Brecht did not properly supervise her staff. In one case, the commission said Brecht administered opioids and medication combinations that could have harmed patients or presented interaction risks.
The commission also found Brecht’s records in surgeries lacking, that she did not adequately monitor patients post-operation and that she improperly administered oral sedation rather than general anesthesia or intravenous sedation during operations.
During a 2019 case, Brecht performed an abdominoplasty and liposuction on a patient in her mid-50s, who the commission said was at “poor risk” for having the procedure using oral sedation. Brecht did not obtain an adequate medical history or physical examination, according to a commission order. At a visit three days after the procedure, the patient had difficulty breathing. Brecht, the order said, did not offer supplemental oxygen or call an ambulance. The woman died two days later. Brecht was placed on probation and prohibited from performing procedures requiring sedation without an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist.