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A woman who had cosmetic surgery performed on her eyes found that after the procedure she was unable to shut her eyes or blink. She sued the surgeon for medical malpractice, and this week she received a jury award of $115,000 in damages.
The procedure that was performed is called a blepharoplasty. In this procedure, fat or skin or both are removed from the upper or lower eyelid. The procedure is often performed as an elective surgery for cosmetic reasons, with the goal of giving the eyes a refreshed and youthful look.
The plaintiff argued at trial that so much skin had been removed from her eyes during two previous blepharoplasties that there was no excess skin to remove, and therefore the surgery performed by the defendant should never have taken place.
The defendant argued that he had verbally warned the plaintiff about the risks of having a third blepharoplasty. He also said that the plaintiff was informed in making her decision to have the surgery by a brochure which explains that incomplete eyelid closure is a possible outcome of the procedure.
Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys following the news of the case noted that the verdict was an unusual split decision. The jury found that the surgeon did deviate from the standard of care in performing the surgery, and that this was the cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
However, the jury rejected the plaintiff’s complaint that she was not fully advised of the risk of incomplete eye closure when she elected to have the surgery.
Due to the split nature of the jury’s decision, both parties claimed to be vindicated by the verdict.
This case just goes to show that even in situations where a patient understands the risks of elective surgery, the physician can still be held accountable to provide the proper standard of care. In a case like this one, the physician could simply have concluded that the risk was too high and refused to perform the surgery.
Source: NorthJersey.com “Bloomingdale woman awarded $115,000 in eyelid malpractice suit” 3/30/2011