The patient suffered a fractured orbit of his eye. The muscle that controlled his eye movement was stuck in the fracture fragments. The eye doctor told the patient that she'd take him to the operating room and release the stuck muscle. She'd then use a titanium implant to connect and hold the broken bone pieces together.
The patient trusted her. She seemed confident and experienced.
Little did he know that the eye doctor had only done this procedure less than a handful of times.
A day after the surgery, the ophthalmologist takes the eye patch off the patient and asks him "What do you see?"
"Nothing," came the reply. "It's totally black."
The eye doctor does some additional tests and gets an emergency MRI. She tells the patient "I have to take you back into surgery immediately. There's a problem and I'm going to fix it."
She never told the patient what she saw and why he needed emergency surgery.
The next day, after the emergency surgery, the doctor again removes the eye patch. "What do you see?"
"Nothing," the patient replies. "It's still black."
That's when the doctor realized the true extent of the problem. But even then, didn't tell the patient exactly why he was now permanently blind in one eye. She told him this was a recognized risk of the surgery and unfortunately, this was permanent.
Turns out, the doctor wasn't being entirely truthful with the patient.
Turns out the doctor violated the basic standards of medical care.
Turns out that as a direct result of the doctor violating the basic standards of medical care did this patient suffer blindness in his eye.
I learned, while questioning the eye doctor during her pre-trial testimony that when she put the implant in to hold the broken bones together, she cut the optic nerve. That's the nerve that controls the patient's sight.
The doctor never recognized this.
When she got the emergency MRI, she realized that the optic nerve was cut, but didn't tell the patient. Then she went back in and attempted to move the titanium implant to get it away from the optic nerve. She thought that by doing that, it would reduce the pressure build-up she thought was responsible for the lack of vision. Wrong.
The nerve was totally severed. By the time she actually realized the extent of the damage, there was no way to repair it.
Also, during pre-trial testimony, the doctor revealed she had done this procedure only a handful of times. She also agreed that a specialist in the field of neuro-ophthalmology would have more experience handling this type of problem.
The sad reality is that this injury was totally preventable. This injury was not a recognized complication from the procedure. It only occurred because of this doctor's inexperience and a violation from the standards of good and acceptable medical care.