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ARTICLE ID 47369

Alleged negligent failure of EMT working in school nurse's office during summer day camp to inform parents of eye trauma during basketball game - Retinal detachment which causes extensive permanent visual deficits in one eye diagnosed 10-12 days later - Plaintiff contends advisements of incident to parents would have prompted timely visit to ophthalmologist and that earlier intervention would have avoided vision impairment.

Nassau County

The plaintiff contended that the defendant EMT worker, who was assigned to the school nurse’s office during a summer day camp program, acted negligently in failing to advise the infant plaintiff’s parents of an incident in which he was poked in the eye during a basketball game. The plaintiff contended that as a result, a retinal injury was not diagnosed until the infant plaintiff developed vision problems in the one eye 10-12 days later. The plaintiff maintained that the delay in diagnosis resulted in a permanent very significant impairment in vision in one eye.

The infant plaintiff was struck in the eye while playing basketball around midday. The infant plaintiff visited the defendant and the defendant, who observed some redness only, did not believe that the incident was serious and sent child back to the program. The defendant did not inform child’s parents. The following day, the child visited an amusement park and went on rides in which he was jostled about. When he developed vision difficulties approximately 10 days later, the parents brought him to an ophthalmologist who determined that the child initially suffered a retinal injury in the basketball incident, that the jostling at the amusement park exacerbated the condition, and that by the time the condition was diagnosed, the child suffered a permanent visual impairment.

The plaintiff’s expert triage nurse maintained that it is impossible to determine whether an eye injury is serious from looking at the patient only and that because of the potential for more serious injury, a patient should be referred for a more complete medical examination after any eye trauma. The infant plaintiff testified that as he was leaving the program at the end of the day, the defendant inquired if he wanted her to call his parents and that the child advised that it was not necessary.

The parents maintained that if they had been advised of the incident, they would have immediately brought the child to an eye doctor. The plaintiff contended that the permanent injury could have been avoided.

The defendant EMT worker maintained that since she observed some minor redness only, it was reasonable to send the child back to the program and not contact the parents. The defendant, who did not present expert testimony on the standard of care, argued that the plaintiff’s nurse’s expert’s position was too inflexible and was not reasonable.

The EMT worker denied having a conversation with the child about calling the parents.

The defendant’s ophthalmologist denied that the vision loss was associated with trauma. The expert maintained that he observed three to four "demarcation lines." The defendant’s expert contended that such dermarcation lines reflected that a medical condition had been present for several months and that each line reflected approximately one month of progression.

The plaintiff’s expert ophthalmologist denied that the defense position should be accepted and contended that the markings reflected the signs of a traumatic injury.

The jury found that the defendant was not negligent.

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