Verdict- $875,000.00 for Permanent Injury during Lasik Surgery and Follow-up Care
On April 22, 2016, we obtained a verdict in the total amount of $875,000.00 for our clients in a case in the State Court of DeKalb County.
Our plaintiff had gone in for a routine Lasik procedure but there was an error during the surgical process. The ophthalmic surgeon failed to recognize that the prescription had been improperly input into the computer. The error was that the computer was told that the correct axis for treatment was 180 degrees rather than 80 degrees. Accordingly, the computer’s ablation pattern was on a horizontal track rather than the correct pattern which would have been almost vertical. Instead of removing the patient’s astigmatism, this error caused a doubling of her astigmatism.
The problems created by this error were compounded when her surgeon and her optometrist recommended that she undergo an immediate procedure the next day to try and correct the mistake. Plaintiff contended that she was not told in advance of this procedure that there had been a physician error during the initial procedure, but was only told she was having a normal reaction to Lasik surgery and she simply needed a small “trim” to resolve her problems. She testified that if she had been told there had been a physician error she would not have proceeded as she did but would have sought out a second opinion from another ophthalmic surgeon before allowing any further procedures. There was testimony that the standard of care requires allowing the eye to “settle” for a period of 4-6 months before any effort at retreatment occurs because it is impossible to determine what the “settled” shape of the eye is going to be after an initial Lasik procedure.
We contended this was not a minor “trim” but instead was a major effort at covering up the original physician error. Our experts established that this next-day surgery, which in fact had involved almost 4 times the ablation used in the initial procedure, caused permanent and uncorrectable injury because it caused irregular astigmatism which cannot be effectively treated. We established that as a result of her irregular astigmatism she had very serious problems with glare, bright lights, fluorescent lights, and bright sunshine and problems working with video screens. Since she was a comptroller her job required heavy computer use and she simply could not find a way to maintain her job performance given the limitations imposed on her by this results of her surgery.
After 2 hours of deliberation the jury returned a verdict in the total amount of $875,000.00.