CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?
He was mugged. On a street in Brooklyn. He had excellent eyesight before. He was hit in the face. That fractured his orbital bone. At the same time the muscle that controls eye movement from left to right and right to left got trapped in the bone fragments.
If you passed him in the street, it would appear as if one eye was looking out to the side while the other was looking right at you. Weird. But if he closed the good eye, he still had excellent vision in the trapped eye. He needed this fixed.
He went to his eye doctor. An ophthalmologist in Brooklyn. She was part of his health plan.
She examined him. She looked at his x-rays and his CAT scan. She said she could do surgery to remove the muscle from the broken bone fragments and fix the orbital bones too. He trusted her. He had no reason not to. She reassured him.
What she didn't tell him was that she had only done five or so of these procedures in her entire career. She didn't tell him that there were eye specialists who did this exact surgery. They are called neuro-opthalmologists. She wasn't a specialist. She should have immediately referred him to a specialist to perform this surgery.
She was a general eye doctor.
During surgery, she removed the muscle from the broken bone fragments. Then she tested the mobility to make sure the eye moved correctly. That was fine. After that, she used a device to hold the bone fragments together. Using titanium screws and a plate called a silastic implant, she fixed him up, good as new.
She put a patch over his eye and would check back with him the following day.
The next day arrives. She excitedly removes the patch and says to him "Well, what do you see?"
He says "Did you take the patch off? I can't see anything!"
She looks at his eye. All looks good. She takes her ophthalmoscope and looks into his eye. She doesn't know what the problem is.
"Can you see any light?" she asks.
"No. Why can't I see anything from my eye?" he asks, as he is beginning to freak out.
"Let's get you a CAT scan to see what's going on," she tells him.
She reviews the CAT scan and concludes that he needs emergency eye surgery.
"Listen, I think I see the problem. I need to take you back into surgery and move the plate holding your broken bone fragments, that should solve the problem," she says reassuringly.
Within an hour, he was back in surgery and she was disassembling her handiwork from the day before.
She unscrewed the plate holding the bones and then moved it. She was hoping this would restore his vision.
But she knew. She knew the moment she looked at the CAT scan.
That showed exactly why he couldn't see.
Maybe she just didn't know what she was looking at.
Maybe she was just fooling herself to believe that if she went back in, somehow, some way, his vision would be restored.
After the second surgery, she returned the next day to check on his progress.
She again removed his eye patch.
"So, what do you see?" she asked expectantly.
"Nothing. What did you do to me?" he demanded to know.
One excuse after another. Never a straight answer.
That eventually brought him to my office.
My expert opthalmologists revealed exactly why this man went blind in his eye following the first surgery.
One look at the CAT scan done on the day after the first surgery explained everything.
The titanium implant that was used to hold the bones together cut and actually transsected the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the lifeline containing the blood supply and nerves for the eye. When you cut it, you end the patient's eyesight. Forever.
It's permanent. There's no going back. Her attempt to 'correct' the problem during her second surgery was ridiculous. You can't reconnect a severed optic nerve a day later and hope or expect it will somehow regrow to give you back your vision.
This man was permanently blind now in one eye. All because this eye doctor violated the basic standards of medical care and failed to refer him out to a specialist who performed this surgery on a regular basis. All because this doctor failed to identify the optic nerve and stay away from it during her orbital repair.
Interestingly, the doctor and his insurance company refused to acknowledge she did anything wrong and fought this case right up until we were told to go pick a jury. At that point, they realized there was no way they could defend this case in front of a jury and promptly settled. I was honored to have been able to represent this man in his quest for justice.
ANOTHER EYE CASE...
"YOU HAVE CATARACTS. YOU NEED SURGERY TO CORRECT IT"
She noticed her vision change. It was slight. Not a big deal. But while driving she noticed that the signs were looking slightly blurry.
She went to see an eye doctor. Someone on her health plan.
He examined her. "You have cataracts," he said. "You need surgery to fix them. We'll do one eye first. Then, a month later, we'll do the other one," he told her. She trusted him. He sounded like he knew what he was doing. He was on her plan for goodness sake. They don't just put anyone on plans she told herself.
She had the cataract surgery. When she returned the following day, her vision was horrible. She could see only shapes and some color. She was freaking out. She started yelling and screaming!
"What did you do? I can't see anything. My vision is horrible. You need to fix this immediately," she screamed.
He checked his calculations. He rechecked them. He reexamined her. He went over his first calculations. Finally, he concluded that the lens he put in was not the correct power. It's almost like putting in the wrong contact lens. He decided he'd take her back to the operating room, remove the lens (called an intraocular lens) and replace it with the correct magnification.
She just wanted him to get it right and give her back her eyesight.
During the second surgery, he had great difficulty removing the lens he'd put in a few days before. It wasn't coming out easily. There was lots of tugging. There was tearing. It was not going smoothly. This was bad.
Finally, he was able to remove the lens from her eye. But during this tug of war, her eye sustained quite a bit of trauma. He then put in the 'correct' power lens. Everything should be fine he hoped.
The next day, she returned to his office.
He removed the eye patch and said "What do you see?"
She hesitated, wondering what he was asking her.
She started yelling at him.
"WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO YOU BASTARD? I CAN'T SEE A DAMN THING. NOTHING! JUST SOME VAGUE SHAPES. WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO???"
She was furious. She was outraged. He made her 'vision' worse.
She had no usable vision. None. She couldn't see out of that eye.
Then came the excuses from the doctor.
Every excuse under the sun. He never took responsibility for his actions. He never admitted he screwed up. He never told her that she didn't need the cataract surgery.
My medical expert said this patient NEVER should have undergone the cataract surgery to begin with. There was no need for it. She just had a slight blurring of her vision that did NOT require cataract surgery. Also, he screwed up during surgery when he was trying to remove the original lens that he put in a few days earlier.
Because he violated the basic standards of medical care, this patient lost her eyesight. Permanently.
Once again, I was able to help this injured patient obtain justice for the harm she suffered at the hands of a careless doctor who was more interested in performing surgery that was not required than doing what was right for this patient.
YET ANOTHER EYE CASE
"HOW DO I HAVE A HOLE IN MY EYE?"
Yes, a hole. A puncture. His eye was leaking fluid. Not from tears, but from fluid within his actual eye.
He'd been in the emergency room just a day and a half earlier. He'd been taken there after getting something in his eye while shopping in a hardware store.
He didn't know what hit him in his eye, but he knew something was in his eye. He felt it. It was irritating. It was uncomfortable. His eye wouldn't stop tearing.
In the ER, she introduced herself as a doctor. She examined his eye. She used a few different instruments to look into his eye. She told him it was just a scratch on his cornea. "A corneal scratch," she said. "Take these eye drops and make an appointment with an eye doctor in a few days. You'll be fine," is what she told him.
She wasn't a doctor. She was a physician's assistant. She never asked one of the ER doctors to examine him. She never called for an eye specialist to come see him. She missed it. Big time. She had no idea what she was looking at.
Over the next day and a half the tearing and discomfort got worse. The pain got worse. Finally, he called the number he was given of the eye specialist. It's now two days later. The appointment was in the morning. On the way in, he stopped off for some breakfast. A donut and some coffee.
He meets the eye specialist, tells him what happened and within moments of examining him, the eye doctor says "YOU HAVE A HOLE IN YOUR EYE! DIDN'T THEY SEE THIS IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM??"
"You need surgery immediately," he says urgently.
"What? What do you mean I have a hole in my eye? The doctor in the emergency room told me I just have a scratch on my cornea," the patient said with extreme worry.
He told his nurse to cancel the rest of his office hours and notify the hospital he needed an operating room immdiately. He sent the patient to the hospital and he'd meet him there. This couldn't wait. If he was lucky, he might be able to save his vision. But time was of the essence.
When he arrived at the hospital the anesthesiologist learned that he'd eaten breakfast that morning. That's a problem. A big problem. That meant he couldn't have general anesthesia. That meant he couldn't be put to sleep for the surgery.
There is a high risk of the patient vomiting during surgery and then inhaling that vomit into their lungs. When that happens that's known as aspiration. When it goes into the lungs that's known as aspiration pneumonia. That is devastating and can be deadly.
The anesthesiologist broke the news to the eye surgery. "Then give him a local sedative to the eye, damm it!" he exclaimed.
That meant this patient needed to get a needle in his eye to numb his eye. He was AWAKE for this corrective eye surgery. He could feel the pulling. He could feel the tugging. He could hear the doctors and nurses talk during his eye surgery. Let me say that again.
HE WAS AWAKE FOR HIS EYE SURGERY!
How freaky and uncomfortable is that?
The doctor needed to close the hole. He needed to make the seal watertight. The problem is that since a few days had elapsed and much fluid had already leaked out, closing the hole would now distort the rest of the eye. That meant that his vision would suffer. This surgeon did the best to put him back together again.
The problem was that the damage had been done. The hole had not been recognized immediately and fixed right away. That delay made a huge difference in the outcome. Now, he had no usable vision. None.
Had this 'hole' been correctly and timely recognized in the ER, he could have had emergency surgery while still in the hospital and would have had a much greater chance of having good, usable vision.
I was privileged to have helped this man obtain justice against the hospital staff and this physician's assistant for violating the basic standards of medical care causing him permanent injury to his eye.
WAS THIS INTERESTING? DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS?
Questions about your matter that happened here in New York? If your matter happened here in NY and you have not yet started a lawsuit, then I invite you to call me at 516-487-8207. I can answer your questions. This is what I do every day and would love to chat with you.
Call me now at 516-487-8207.