A Lehigh County Jury awards woman $23 million in a medical malpractice case. September 20, 2011 – Attorney Matt Casey won $23.1 million on Friday for a woman who had to have a finger and both legs amputated as a result of medical malpractice.
The outcome is the highest reported verdict out of Lehigh County over the last 10 years.
The case involved a home care nurse who failed to properly evaluate and timely report Sharlee Ann Smoyer's infected catheter. As a result, Smoyer, then 52, developed a near fatal bloodstream infection that ultimately caused her to lose both legs to amputation.
The jury award of $23 million was to cover medical expenses, past, present and future non-economic losses and lost earnings.
Smoyer was under home nursing care after colon surgery.
According to Casey, the nurse had the specific task of inserting catheters into patients' bloodstreams. Part of that task included watching for signs of redness at the catheter site, which she was supposed to report. On Oct. 13, 2008, redness was present on Smoyer's catheter, but the nurse did not report it. Instead, she simply planned a return visit eight days later.
Sadly, eight days was enough time to allow an infection to spread. Casey successfully argued that this failure to report was a violation of the standard's of care.
Smoyer called the nursing agency just 48 hours after the visit indicating she was having difficulty breathing, according to Casey. She was found to be in septic shock and was airlifted to the hospital.
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