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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is not having a good week when it comes to news about medical malpractice. First there was a report regarding unsanitized colonoscopy equipment that infected patients, and now there has been a medical malpractice settlement of nearly one million dollars for a patient who lost an eye in a particularly gruesome way.
The patient was a 60-year-old man who went in to a VA hospital for rather routine cataract surgery. A third-year resident approached him with a syringe filled with anesthetic, which is supposed to be injected behind the eye.
Tragically, the resident did not inject the anesthetic behind the eye, but directly into the patient’s eyeball. Apparently she also injected the anesthetic very rapidly, with the effect that the eyeball filled with fluid so quickly that it literally exploded.
The man’s lawsuit claimed (not surprisingly) that he suffered excruciating pain from the improperly administered anesthetic, and that the pain continued to be severe for months after the event. The lawsuit claimed that the damage to the eye is permanent. The iris is entirely missing, and the eyelid droops. The danger of blindness is increased because the man has only one working eye left.
The patient worked as a roofer before the incident, but has been unable to return to that profession because he lacks depth perception.
Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys see many types of medical errors. Some are very subtle, and can be proven only with expert testimony from medical specialists. Some, though, are blatant failures to provide an accepted standard of care. This case is one of those blatant failures. That is very likely one reason the defendant was willing to reach a settlement with the patient. There was no excuse for this type of medical error.
Source: ctpost.com “VA pays $925,000 in Bridgeport exploding eyeball suit” 6/27/2011