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Henderson woman sues surgeon over battle with flesh-eating bacteria

A Henderson woman who contracted a flesh-eating bacteria infection in 2019 after a cosmetic plastic surgery procedure has filed a lawsuit against her surgeon, Valley Health System and others.

Attorney Matthew Hoffman of Battle Born Injury Lawyers said his client, Ashleigh Cope, 23, contracted the infection, known as necrotizing Fasciitis, during a liposuction procedure on her back.

Hoffman said the procedure was done at VIP Plastic Surgery. The infection resulted in 18 surgeries and the loss of about 40 percent of the skin on Cope’s body.

She spent months at University Medical Center — which was not involved in her original treatment — until her release in the spring. Cope was released early from the hospital due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ashleigh is at home. She is stable,” Hoffman said on Tuesday. “She is doing physical therapy. She is working with a reconstructive surgeon who is with the UNLV School of Medicine. Now she is doing well, all things considered, but she has quite a road ahead of her. She will never be anywhere close to what she was.”

District Court records indicate that the suit was filed Monday against physician Christopher Khorsandi, doing business as VIP Plastic Surgery, Valley Health System, two other health care businesses and three other individuals.

Khorsandi’s attorney, Patricia Daehnke, said he “is an excellent surgeon who cares about all his patients.”

“I have advised him due to HIPAA and patient privacy not to speak about protected medical information of any of his patients,” Daehnke said. “From my information, Dr. Khorsandi met the standard of care and did not cause the alleged harm to this patient.”

HIPAA is an acronym for the federal law restricting release of medical information.

An attempt to obtain comment from Valley Health was not successful Tuesday morning. Court records did not indicate whether Valley Health or others named in the suit have retained attorneys.

Hoffman said Cope underwent the liposuction procedure under Khorsandi’s care. After she became ill, she was sent to a free-standing clinic that he identified as ER at Green Valley Ranch.

“They diagnosed sepsis almost immediately,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said Cope’s transfer from the clinic to a full-treatment hospital was delayed by nine hours. Cope, he said, was eventually transferred to the clinic-affiliated Henderson Hospital, several miles away, as opposed to St. Rose Dominican Hospital, Siena campus. The latter had a burn unit and was just a mile away, he said.

The attorney said Cope underwent extensive skin grafting for devastating injuries caused by the bacteria.

“She has lost skin and tissue, basically muscle, over approximately 40 percent of her body, to include a large scar on her right bicep, then massive loss all across her back and legs,” Hoffman said, adding that “people don’t survive statistically that loss of tissue, at least don’t survive without losing limbs.”