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Woman sues hospital over blood infection

Plaintiff says she was given strep-tainted IV

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- A woman claims she acquired a rare blood infection while a patient at Winchester Medical Center in 2010.

A medical malpractice lawsuit filed late last month accuses nurses and health care providers of negligence by giving the patient "an IV tainted with streptococcus pyogenes" -- bacteria commonly associated with strep throat.

Leesburg attorney Barbara S. Williams filed the complaint in Winchester Circuit Court on behalf of the plaintiff, Barbara Stanford. The plaintiff seeks $800,000 in damages or any greater amount as determined at a jury trial, according to the complaint. The lawsuit identifies the hospital and Valley Health as defendants, neither of whom had responded to the complaint as of Friday.

Stanford went to Winchester Medical Center beginning March 28 for complaints related to a partial bowel obstruction and underwent the placement of an intravenous catheter in her left arm, according to the complaint. During her stay at the hospital, nurses and other medical staff administered fluids to the patient via the IV site, the complaint states. Staff removed Stanford's IV on March 31, 2010 and the patient was discharged from the hospital.

"Following the removal of the IV catheter at WMC, Plaintiff's arm became severely red, tender, and swollen at her IV site, and she was readmitted to the hospital on April 2, 2010," the complaint states. "Blood cultures taken from the Plaintiff revealed that the Plaintiff's blood was positive for streptococcus pyrogenes.

"Streptococcus pyogenes is extraordinarily rare when it occurs as a blood infection," the complaint continues. "At no time in the any relevant time period to her admission nor following her discharge did the Plaintiff have streptococcus pyogenes located in her throat ('strep throat')."

Stanford's treating physician diagnosed the patient with septic thrombo-phlebitis and metastic septic arthritis of her right knee.

The complaint identifies hospital workers who "handled, flushed, injected fluids into, or otherwise specifically acted in some way upon the Plaintiff's IV site which became infected during her stay at the Winchester Medical Center between March 28 and March 31, 2010." The complaint names Tonya Neff, Courtney Michael, Jennifer Bostrom, Samantha Hibbs, Pamela Shingleton as well as an unidentified radiographic technician who injected contrast into the patient's IV in order to perform a CT scan. Stacy Davis, Dustan Maher-Felton, Katelyn Crawley, Doddie Ritter, Naomi Boggess, Vicki Curry, Mandy Ricketts, Kathy Hart, Ginny Cooper, Kristi Martinez, Linda Lee Pindell, Lori Haines, Regina Wymer and Angela Dezzutti are identified as health care providers in the complaint.

"Due to the infection in her blood acquired at the Winchester Medical Center, the Plaintiff underwent, among other procedures, a right knee aspiration and washout, a venectomy of her cephalic vein from her shoulder to below her antecubital fossa, as well as the placement of a subclavian catheter for long-term antibiotic infusion," the complaint states.

The first count of the malpractice suit claims the hospital owed a duty to provide the plaintiff with "clean, bacteria free medical equipment, such as IV needles, catheters, and medications," as well as "a clean environment where simple procedures ... may take place without unreasonable risk of an easily avoidable infection." The complaint claims the hospital breached the standard of care by providing the plaintiff with an IV tainted with streptococcus pyogenes, failing to ensure proper infectious disease controls were implemented, enforced and adhered to, nor made sure employees involved in the patient's care wore gloves, masks or washed their hands.


When I had my son in 2010 I also developed an infection that required a prolonged stay in Winchester Hospital. During my treatment there nurses administered I.V's without the use of gloves. I was shocked and commented to one of my nurses who said as long as they washed their hands they were not required too wear gloves. I, personally, strongly feel that one person's hand washing abilities differ from another. In order to prevent infection doctors and nurses should be required to wear a glove. And if they are not, patients YOU have the right to request that they do not touch you or your I.V. with out one!!

The gloves that the nurses use are NOT sterile. they come from a box sitting in the room. they are used mainly to prevent the Nurses from getting or spreading anything from patients. It is better to make sure the Nurses clean the injection port on your IV BEFORE injecting anything in it. Wearing gloves will give you a false sence of secruity and will NOT prevent infection unless they are sterile gloves....and those are only used for sterile procedures like surgery etc....

Winchester Medical Center is the pits. They screwed up my meds and scheduling twice. I go to Fauquier Hospital now for my Remicade infusions. They are MUCH more professional and service oriented. Winchester hospital employees have poor attitudes and very lack luster work ethics. Fauquier Hospital is head and shoulders above Winchester in my Experience and opinion. It’s Worth the drive for better service and to have such wonderful and caring people taking care of me.

Absolutely right Concern. So-called "clean" gloves, in most institutions, stay in rooms as multiple patients come and go and certainly do not protect the patient from bacteria. Also, the article talks about masks...having worked in several large well-respected academic medical centers, I know of none that require masks to insert, manage or inject things into a peripheral IV unless the nurse is sick or the patient is on special precautions. And, as long as the needn't hands do not come into contact with the injection port (NOT the whole IV, just the part the syringe att, aches to), the solution being injected, or the very end if the syringe that touches the IV, then even "dirty" hands would not lead to a dirty IV. In my experience the biggest problem is lack of dedicated equipment (blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes) for patients with communicable diseases and less than ideal protocols for cleaning rooms between patients (likely to save money on housekeeping staff). For example, hallway bathrooms and showers may be cleaned daily but not between patients except under special circumstances, not everything in your room (walls, glove boxes) is cleaned before you arrive, etc. and your doctor's stethoscope or other instruments? Likely not cleaned routinely between patients (this is against policy in most hospitals and it is reasonable to request they do so before touching you, or cover it with something).

The other problem? Your visitors. They are less likely to wash their hands and more likely to be in sustained close contact with you-even if they don't touch your IV, if they touch your clothes that then touch it, etc, that could be an issue. While you should make sure staff wash their hands, always make sure your visitors do as well.

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