Woman became blind in right eye after cataract surgery — $750,000 settlement

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//September 27, 2021

Woman became blind in right eye after cataract surgery — $750,000 settlement

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//September 27, 2021

Type of action: Medical malpractice

Injuries alleged: Blindness in one eye

Tried before: Mediation

Name of judge or mediator: Judge Robert S. Brewbaker (Ret.)

Date resolved: 7/8/2021

Verdict or settlement: Settlement

Amount: $750,000

Attorneys for plaintiff (and city): Jonathan M. Petty and William H. Parcell III, Richmond

Description of case: The plaintiff, a 53-year-old woman, underwent cataract surgery on her left eye by the defendant ophthalmologist without complication. She experienced no pain or discomfort after the surgery. One week later, the defendant performed cataract surgery on her right eye. Shortly after leaving the ambulatory surgery center, the patient experienced pain in the eye and a headache. She called the office to report her symptoms and was instructed to take her eye patch off and administer eye drops. Approximately two hours later, the patient called back reporting that she still had pain, that her eye was swollen shut and that the area was blackened. She was instructed to use a cool compress, to stay in a recliner with her head elevated and to return to the office the following morning for evaluation. When she presented the next day, she was blind in the right eye with no light perception. The condition is permanent.

The patient experienced a retrobulbar hemorrhage, or bleeding in the area of the eye, likely as a result of the administration of anesthesia for the cataract surgery. She bled into a confined space, which resulted in pressure on the optic nerve analogous to a compartment syndrome. This is a known complication of cataract surgery and is a surgical emergency. The standard of care in this situation was for the surgeon to immediately see the patient and perform canthotomy and cantholysis, which is a simple surgical procedure to relieve the pressure in the eye before irreversible damage is done to the optic nerve. The plaintiff’s expert opined that the failure of the defendant to timely provide this remedial treatment was the cause of her permanent blindness.



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