Woman awarded $23M for catheter-related infection

A Leighton, PA, woman, was awarded $23M after she had to have both of her legs and a finger amputated due to a bacteria from a catheter entering her bloodstream.
Sharlee Ann Smoyer, 55, was being cared for at home by a home healthcare nurse, Jolynn Yurchak , under the employee of St. Luke’s Miners Memorial Home care. Smoyer’s attorney argued that the home care nurse’s negligence in failing to report the infection in a timely manner, almost killed Smoyer and cost her limbs due to gangrene.

Smoyer’s attorney, Matthew Casey, said:

“Sharlee Smoyer was one of St. Luke’s most vulnerable home-care nursing patients and they refused during this trial to accept even the most basic responsibility for mistakes made in her care. Ms. Smoyer hopes that the verdict will result in St. Luke’s redoubling its efforts to help prevent catheter-related bloodstream infections in the home-care setting.”

The jury found that the home care nurse failed to provide the “standard of care” — the kind of care that another medical professional would have provided given the same set of circumstances with the same level of education and training.

The medical malpractice award will pay for Smoyer’s medical expenses, loss of earnings and for her future care.

The jury was also most certainly sending a message to St. Luke’s Miners Memorial Home care to work on preventing catheter-related infections.

Central-line and catheters can introduce bacteria into a patient’s bloodstream and can cause death and injuries like Ms. Smoyer’s.

National Patient Safety Goals have set standards to decrease and eliminate catheter-related infections. Healthcare workers should be educated on potential complications and how to monitor the catheters and signs of potential infection. Hand washing, body draping, and anti-septic prep before inserting a catheter are all measures that must be taken to prevent infection.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who suffered serious injury due to medical malpractice and hospital infections including MRSA. With our help, you may recover compensation for your damages.


Jury awards Lehighton woman $23 million
The Morning Call September 17, 2011
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