Ophthalmological Malpractice

Gordon & Silber has developed a particular sub-specialty in the defense of ophthalmological malpractice claims, including cases dealing with cataract surgery, refractive surgery including lasik, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and corneal transplants.

  • G&S has more ophthalmological experience than any New York medical malpractice firm.
  • Regularly serves as counsel for ophthalmologists insured by Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Company, Medical Malpractice Insurance Pool.
  • Regularly represents New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital.
  • Unsurpassed trial record defending ophthalmologists.
G&S Obtains Defense Verdict in Tough Eye Case Involving Multiple Surgeries
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G&S OBTAINS DEFENSE VERDICT IN TOUGH EYE CASE INVOLVING MULTIPLE SURGERIES

The Plaintiff had undergone cataract surgery performed by our client. One day after the surgery, as well as a week after surgery, plaintiff was evaluated by our client with very poor visual acuity (ability to only “count fingers” at 2 feet). On the third post-operative visit, our client determined that the intra-ocular lens (the artificial lens that he inserted as a replacement for the human lens which has developed a cataract) had dislocated. As a result, the plaintiff had to undergo a series of surgeries to correct this situation, which allegedly caused him to have serious problems with depth perception, glare and blurry vision.

The claim of malpractice essentially was that the intra-ocular lens had dislocated right after the surgery, which was demonstrated by the extremely poor visual acuity one the first and second visits and that our client had failed to diagnose it in a timely fashion. The plaintif’’s experts testified that had our client dilated the eye and seen him more frequently, he would have diagnosed the dislocation earlier, which would have caused the corrective surgery to be done earlier, avoiding the necessity of additional surgeries and prevented the development of his problems with depth perception, blurriness and glare.

We were able to defeat the claim by presenting evidence and expert testimony which established that despite the initial poor visual acuity at the time of the first two post-operative visits, our client had correctly ascertained that the intra-ocular lens was in the correct location through both his own examination and the use of a device called the auto-refractor. We also proved that as soon as there was actual evidence that the lens had dislocated, our client made the correct referral, and that despite the claims of impaired vision, the plaintiff had made a good recovery after the corrective surgery, with vision which enabled him to fully participate in his daily activities.

DAWN ADELSON’S CROSS-EXAMINATION OF PLAINTIFF’S EXPERT LEADS TO RARE DISCONTINUANCE IN CLAIM THAT EYE SURGEON CAUSED RETINAL DETACHMENT
DAWN ADELSON'S CROSS-EXAMINATION OF PLAINTIFF'S EXPERT LEADS TO A RARE DISCONTINUANCE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TRIAL, IN A CLAIM THAT OUR CLIENT, AN EYE SURGEON, CAUSED PLAINTIFF'S RETINAL DETACHMENT AND RESULTANT LOSS OF VISION. SUPREME COURT, WESTCHESTER COUNTY

Plaintiff, a 72 year old physician, underwent left-eye cataract surgery performed by our client. Plaintiff’s post-operative course was complicated by intermittent complaints of pain to the eye, blurry vision, inflammation and clouding of the posterior capsule. Our client treated plaintiff with a course of steroids and performed a YAG laser capsulotomy for the opacification seven weeks post-surgery. One and a half years after the cataract surgery plaintiff suffered a retinal detachment and permanent loss of vision. Plaintiff brought suit alleging the detachment was due to our client’s failure to diagnose and remove retained lens material from the eye. Plaintiff pointed to the post-operative inflammation as evidence of same and argued that the laser capsulotomy should not have been performed in the immediate post-operative period while plaintiff was still on steroids. Plaintiff argued this triggers an uncontrolled persistent inflammation, resulting in retinal detachment and permanent vision loss.

At trial, Ms. Adelson discredited the plaintiff’s ophthalmology expert on cross-examination by demonstrating he was not only less credentialed and experienced than our own expert, but was less credentialed and experienced than our client. Ms. Adelson battered plaintiff’s expert and used him to demonstrate that the science and medicine supported that plaintiff did not have retained lens material in the eye, that the laser capsulotomy was indicated and it was a genetic defect that caused the retinal detachment, not our client’s post-operative care. Shortly after the close of Ms. Adelson’s cross-examination the plaintiff agreed to voluntarily discontinue the case against our client, thereby ending the trial, as our client was the sole defendant.

G&S WINS VERDICT FOR EYE SURGEON WHO ALLEGEDLY CAUSED PLAINTIFF’S LOSS OF VISION DURING CATARACT SURGERY
VENUE: NEW YORK SUPREME COURT, NEW YORK COUNTY.

After a cataract surgery performed by our client, the plaintiff lost vision to her right eye. She alleged that our client failed to properly deal with a complication known as Floppy Iris Syndrome which caused unpredictable movements of the iris, and failed to apply appropriate anesthesia which led to excessive patient movement during the procedure which lead to damage to the plaintiff’s corneal endothelium, that caused plaintiff’s later loss of vision. Plaintiff claimed our client should have aborted the surgery when the iris became floppy and also due to the plaintiff’s excessive movement. Plaintiff also alleged that iris hooks should have been used to stabilize the iris and that excessive manipulation of the eye during the procedure lead to corneal decompensation and eventual loss of vision.

We argued that the client’s nick of the iris was due to the floppy iris and not the lack of anesthesia. We also argued that after a certain point it was not possible to abort the surgery, that the use of viscoelastic iris hooks was appropriate and that loss of vision only occurred after a bout of herpes keratitis, which offered a compelling alternative explanation for the bad result.

Within two hours of deliberation, the jury came back with a defense verdict, finding no malpractice on the part of our client.

SETTLEMENT FOR NUISANCE VALUE – NEGLIGENT LASIK SURGERY, LACK OF INFORMED CONSENT
NEW YORK SUPREME COURT, NEW YORK COUNTY

Plaintiff sued our client after undergoing bilateral Lasik surgery. Plaintiff alleged that it was a departure to have performed the procedure on the same day of the evaluation and after the plaintiff had been pharmacologically dilated. In addition, plaintiff alleged a failure of informed consent. Plaintiff alleged de-centered ablations of both eyes and that, as a result of the de-centered ablations, she lost her best corrected visual acuity and suffered from glare, halos, star bursting and dry eyes.

DEFENSE VERDICT – CONTRAINDICATED LASIK SURGERY
NEW YORK SUPREME COURT, NEW YORK COUNTY

Plaintiff sued our client after undergoing bilateral Lasik surgery. The plaintiff alleged that our client failed to diagnose pre-existing epithelial basement membrane dystrophy (EBMD), which, if diagnosed, would have made the surgery contraindicated. As a result he alleged the need to undergo enhancement surgery of both eyes, as well as corneal scrapings to address epithelial ingrowth. He also alleged an inability to drive at night, glare, starbursts and distorted vision.

DEFENSE VERDICT – COMPLETE VISION LOSS FROM CATARACT SURGERY
NEW YORK SUPREME COURT, NEW YORK COUNTY

We received a defense verdict in a case where plaintiff alleged she suffered a complete loss of vision in her right eye due to an unnecessary cataract surgery, without informed consent, where the surgeon had negligently placed an intraocular lens causing inflammation leading to her blindness. Plaintiff claimed the surgery was not necessary since her vision was not that bad and the risks were not explained to her. She testified that directly after the surgery she had no useful vision. Making the case more difficult was the fact that our client never documented in her chart plaintiff’s visual complaints which justified the surgery. Nor did she dictate her operative report until one month after the surgery. She also referred to the elderly plaintiff in her chart as a “malingerer” on several occasions. We set out to demonstrate that (1) our client attempted to treat plaintiff’s vision with non-surgical means; (2) although not absolutely necessary, the surgery was the only way to improve plaintiff’s vision problems; (3) plaintiff was fully advised of the risks of the surgery, including loss of vision; (4) despite the complication, the cataract surgery was well handled; (5) the surgery would have resulted in an improvement of vision if she had taken the prescribed eye drops; and (6) the loss of vision was not caused by the inflammation, but rather, a mini-stroke several days after the operation which could not have been predicted or prevented. The jury came back with a defense verdict, finding no malpractice.