Surgery Causing Blindess in One Eye: $1.075M Verdict

2015 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Man loses vision after eye surgery: While no negligence found, doctor did not provide adequate informed consent

The plaintiff was a 50-year-old man who is permanently blind in the right eye after undergoing an eye surgery performed by defendant ophthalmologist, John Warren, M.D.

On 7/15/10, Dr. Warren performed a surgical resection of a pterygium (benign growth on the eye) on the plaintiff’s right eye. Dr. Warren used a retro-bulbar block (placing a needle directly behind the eye) for local anesthetic. Of note, prior to the surgery, the plaintiff’s vision was 20/20 in both eyes. Post-operatively, the plaintiff developed severe right eye pain that Dr. Warren attributed to the surgery.

The following day, 7/16/10, the plaintiff was seen by Louis Vestringhe, M.D., at Dr. Warren’s office for follow-up evaluation. The plaintiff was unable complete a visual exam and unable to open his right eye due to his extreme pain and discomfort. This was again attributed to normal, post-operative pain.

On 7/19/10, post-operative day 4, the plaintiff returned to Eye & Lasik center and was seen again by Dr. Vestringhe. Dr. Vestringhe determined that plaintiff was suffering from vision loss in his right eye secondary to central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO). Dr. Vestringhe told the plaintiff that his vision loss was caused by Dr. Warren’s retro-bulbar block and that his vision loss was permanent.

During trial, the plaintiff claimed that Dr. Warren was negligent when he injected the anesthetic agent directly into the plaintiff’s optic nerve and that Dr. Warren failed to provide adequate informed consent and advise plaintiff of alternatives to the retrobulbar block. At trial, the defendant admitted that there were such alternatives and that he did not discuss the risks and benefits of alternative anesthetics with the plaintiff.

The defense claimed that the retrobulbar block was the anesthetic of choice given the length of the procedure and the extent of the pterygium. The defense also argued that the plaintiff was adequately informed and, in fact, had signed 3 consent forms prior to surgery.

After approximately 1.5 hours of deliberations, the jury asked a question regarding the plaintiff’s future damages. Despite a question on damages, no offer was made. Shortly after the judge answered the jury’s question, they returned a verdict for $1,075,000.00, finding no negligence, but that Dr. Warren failed to provide adequate informed consent.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys Andrew C. Meyer, Jr., Benjamin Novotny and Nicholoas Cappiello represented the plaintiff in this medical malpractice lawsuit.

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