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Surgical error and the wrong medication leaves woman sightless

Medical negligence claims for injuries to the eyes are common in Pennsylvania and other states. The status of one's eyesight is a critical health issue for people moving into their elder years. With good medical attention, however, most older citizens can expect to enjoy reasonably effective eyesight for the duration of their lives. Unfortunately, in a small number of cases, patients come forward with complaints of surgical error and other forms of medical malpractice against their eye doctors.

One such claim resulted in a $5 million jury verdict recently on behalf of a 67-year-old woman who was rendered legally blind due to negligent treatment and surgical procedures committed by her eye doctor. She had a history of glaucoma in one eye, which would preclude the use of aggressive steroidal medications to treat most eye problems. She was being treated for the wet form of macular degeneration, which is not generally a condition that leads to blindness, especially with good, careful treatment and appropriate medications.

However, the defendant doctor was administering a particularly aggressive steroid, which resulted in shrinking and blindness in the eye. It was removed and a glass eyes put in its place. Using the wrong medication, per experts in the plaintiff's case, was known to lead to the tragic results that occurred.

By triggering another bout of glaucoma, the medication was dangerous to use under the circumstances. Experts testified that it was a known danger in the ophthalmological field and the use of a steroid in a case of prior glaucoma was a violation of the standard of care. The doctor also performed three defective procedures and committed severe surgical error with respect to the other eye, which made the patient legally blind and permanently without sight. The jury did not accept the claims by the defendant's expert that the defendant did everything in the proper manner and had not committed medical malpractice. Pennsylvania law applies generally to these issues and would likely call for a similar finding of medical negligence.

Source:, "Verdict awards couple $5M after procedures leave woman legally blind", Kevin Landrigan, Dec. 9, 2016


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