Cataract Patient Sues Ophthalmologist, Wins $1.5 Million

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A civil jury recently awarded a Durham cataract patient who filed a medical malpractice lawsuit $1.5 million in compensation for damages. The defendants named in the suit included a Durham ophthalmologist and the North Carolina Specialty Hospital in Durham.

According to the lawsuit, the patient had surgery at the North Carolina Specialty Hospital in 2008 for cataracts in his left eye. According to testimony rendered in court, the ophthalmologist ordered VisionBlue, a dye that would color the cataract for safe removal. However, a nurse passed methylene blue to the surgical technician. The technician, in turn, passed the drug to the eye doctor. Methylene blue is toxic to eyes. Both the nurse and the technician claimed that they called out the toxic drug's name as they passed it along. However, the doctor claims that he never heard it.

In any event, the toxic drug was applied to the patient's eye, causing severe damage, according to the lawsuit. Although the patient's vision is 20/20 in his right eye, the surgical error left him blind in his other eye, the claim states. According to the patient's lawyer, the lawsuit was first heard in a court in January 2011. A jury awarded the man $1.5 million, but the total amount will reportedly approach $2 million on account of court costs and interest.

As this case illustrates, patients who suffer injuries because of the negligence of medical professionals, including physicians, nurses or hospital staff, may retain a personal injury attorney and file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If successful, the patients might be able to recover the cost of medical bills and lost wages directly related to their injuries. The patients may also receive compensation for humiliation, emotional distress and pain and suffering.

Source: The Herald Sun, "Jury awards cataract patient $1.5M in malpractice suit", Keith Upchurch, August 20, 2014

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