ARTICLE ID 32818
$________ - MEDICAL MALPRACTICE - NEGLIGENT RETINA SURGERY - PLAINTIFF ALLEGES DELAY AND INADEQUATE SURGERY FOR RETINAL DETACHMENT AND TEAR IN LEFT EYE - LOSS OF LEFT EYE - DELAY IN TREATMENT OF RIGHT EYE FOR PROBABLE LATTICE DEGENERATION - LEGAL BLINDNESS OF RIGHT EYE.
This lawsuit grew out of the plaintiffs allegations of medical malpractice
on the part of the defendant retinal surgeon. In particular, the plaintiff
argued that the defendants delay in surgery for a retinal detachment
and tear in the plaintiffs left eye caused deterioration and additional
symptoms that the plaintiff would not have otherwise suffered had
the surgery been performed without delay. In addition, the plaintiff
alleged that the defendant should have performed a vitrectomy and
scleral buccal, rather than just a scleral buccal, and contended that
the failure to perform the appropriate procedures in combination with
the delay caused the loss of the plaintiffs left eye. With respect
to the right eye, it was alleged that the defendants failure to initially
examine the right eye, and the subsequent delay in treating the right
eye for symptoms of lattice degeneration, resulted in multiple surgeries
two years later which were only minimally successful, so that plaintiff
is now legally blind in his right eye as a direct result of the delay
and lack of treatment.
The male plaintiff was a 44-year-old truck driver in March 3, ________,
when his ophthalmologist diagnosed him as having a retinal detachment
and a possible retinal tear in his left eye. The ophthalmologist referred
plaintiff to the defendant retinal surgeon. The plaintiff visited
the defendant the next day and was scheduled for surgery on March
5th in which a scleral buccal would be performed to treat the retinal
detachment. While the defendant maintained that there was no operative
suite available for surgery on March 4th, the plaintiff maintained
through the testimony of a former hospital employee that there was,
in fact, an operative suite available and that there were written
procedures in place to bump other procedures for an emergency surgery.
According to the plaintiff, the delay caused the retinal detachment
to worsen and the tear to expand to encompass the full quadrant of
the eye. In addition, prior to the surgery, blood was found in the
vitreous and a second retinal tear had developed. As a result, according
to the plaintiffs experts opinion, the proper procedure should have
been a scleral buccal and a vitrectomy to remove the entire vitreous
in the eye and replace it with a fluid or a gas to hold the retina
in place and alleviate the tractional forces pulling at the retina
to avoid causing further injury to the eye.
After the surgery was performed, the plaintiff continued to suffer
a severe vitreous hemorrhage. On March 20, ________, the defendant determined
that the plaintiff required a vitrectomy and scheduled this surgery
for March 25. However, by then, the plaintiff had developed a total
retinal detachment and the second retinal tear had now become a giant
tear. Following this surgery, the eyed continued to deteriorate and
shrink and one year later, the eye was surgically removed.
With respect to the right eye, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant
failed to even examine this eye. The plaintiff further alleged that
the defendant did not attempt to treat this eye prophylactically for
probable lattice degeneration. Two years later in March, ________, there
was a retinal detachment in the right eye which resulted in multiple
surgeries that have left the plaintiff legally blind.
Relying upon his experts opinion, the plaintiff contended the delay
in surgery was the direct cause for the later symptoms which developed
in the left eye. The delay allowed the retinal detachment and expansion
of the retinal tear and the other progression of symptoms which ultimately
led to the loss of the left eye. In addition, according to the plaintiffs
expert, while the defendant performed a scleral buccal to repair the
detachment and tear, the appropriate procedure should have been a
scleral buccal combined with a vitrectomy. Additionally, the plaintiff
contended that the defendant negligently failed to examine the right
eye during plaintiffs first visit. The plaintiffs expert opined
that the defendant should have prophylactically treated the right
eye and that her failure to do so resulted in a retinal detachment
two years later with multiple surgeries of only modest success so
that plaintiff has been left legally blind in his right eye.
The defendant contended that there was no proximate cause between
the medical treatment given and the detachment which occurred in the
right eye two years later. In this regard, the defendant argued that
with most people, there is a natural occurrence of lattice degeneration
as they age and that its not significant unless it affects the macula.
The defendant maintained that it was appropriate to simply monitor
the eye, rather than to take proactive measures. While the defendant
admitted that it was negligent to fail to examine the right eye both
initially and in the months after treatment of the left eye, it was
argued that the retinal detachment two years later was unrelated to
With regards to the left eye, the defendant maintained there was no
meaningful delay in performing surgery. Furthermore, the defendants
position was that retinal detachments often occur and that they dont
have to be treated on an emergency basis, thus the surgery performed
two days after the initial visit was not a medically significant delay.
In addition, the defendant argued that it was a matter of medical
judgment justified by the circumstances to perform the scleral buccal
procedure without a vitrectomy.
The plaintiff, who is totally disabled, receives state disability
and now also receives SSD benefits. Economic testimony would have
been presented at trial in support of his lost income claim, although
there would have been an offset for the collateral sources received
Two days into the trial, after the opening statements were concluded
and the first witness was called, the parties agreed to settle this
case in the amount of $________. This figure was based upon the trauma
of the surgeries and loss of eyesight, the fact that plaintiff has
two children ages 11 and 13 and that he would never be able to work
again. The plaintiff claimed over $________ in economic loss and loss
of household services. This was premised upon the plaintiffs allegations
that at the time of the surgery, he had been a local driver earning
$________/year, but he had formerly been a truck driver on national
routes earning $________/ year. Sometime prior to the surgery, the plaintiff
had determined to work closer to home until his daughter turned age
12 because he was close to his children and wanted to coach their
athletic teams and generally be involved in their lives, which he
could not do while working on national routes. Thus, the economic
losses were calculated based on his earnings as a national route driver.
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