Not even $16 million is enough to replace the hands and feet of Stephanie Hollingsworth.
When the vasculitis patient was 26, she had her fingers and toes amputated after being in the care of Yvonne Sherrer, a Holy Cross Hospital rheumatologist in Broward.
Almost a decade later, a Broward County jury wrapped up the medical malpractice case, awarding $15.9 million in damages last month to Hollingsworth of Little Havana. The jury ruled that Sherrer failed to properly diagnose and treat the woman, who had come in because of severe flare-ups and ulcerations on her feet.
Instead, Sherrer waited a week before transferring the woman to University of Miami Hospital.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
But by then, it was too late — the tissue in her fingers and toes was already dead.
“This doctor’s failure to follow the standard of care for her profession caused this young woman to suffer nightmarish injuries. She will never be able to lead a normal life,” said Hollingsworth’s attorney, Scott Schlesinger.
Though Holy Cross Hospital was originally targeted in the lawsuit, it was not found at fault, records show.
Holy Cross spokeswoman Marielle Sologuren issued a statement Friday: “We are pleased the trial outcome acknowledges that the hospital was not at fault.”
Sherrer, who still works at the hospital, could not be reached for comment Friday.
According to Schlesinger, Hollingsworth was admitted to Holy Cross in November of 2008 because of a flare-up that was causing pain in her hands and ulcerations on her feet.
Vasculitis, an autoimmune disease, causes blood vessel inflammation and can lead to organ damage and serious conditions such as blood infection, or sepsis. It often is treated with steroids and other medications that combat autoimmune diseases.
Schlesinger says Sherrer’s failure to administer the proper medication, and failure to not quickly transfer Hollingsworth to another hospital, led to the limbs’ progressive deterioration.
“By the time she was transferred to another hospital, she was near death and her extremities were black with gangrene,” Schlesinger said. “Doctors at the second hospital administered Cytoxan and saved Hollingsworth’s life. However, they could not save the gangrenous tissue.”
Hollingsworth lost nine of her toes, part of her left foot, her right thumb and the tips of two fingers. She now relies on prosthetic devices and cannot walk or stand for more than 30 minutes.