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WHEN CATARACT SURGERY LEAVES YOU SEEING RED

A doctor examining a patients eye

Your cataract surgery was supposed to be fairly routine: in-and-out in minutes, little to no pain, a day or two to recover, then better vision than ever. But, somehow, things didn’t turn out that way and you’ve had nothing but pain, with vision problems worse than before. You’re understandably angry and want to sue the ophthalmologist who treated you. Do you have a winnable medical malpractice case, you wonder?

After forty years as a practicing personal injury lawyer in Indiana, I can give you a “definite” answer: it depends! The fact that you experienced injury to your eyesight following the surgery does not necessarily mean there was malpractice.  The pivotal question is this: Did your doctor provide treatment in line with “the level of care that a reasonably competent healthcare professional with similar training and in the same medical community, would have provided under the circumstances”?

Let’s consider: The purpose of cataract surgery is to remove a cloudy lens from a patient’s eye, replacing it with an artificial lens. So what may have gone wrong?

During the surgery:

  1. The anesthetic might have been inadequate or improperly administered
  2. The wrong lens might have been inserted
  3. The back of the lens capsule was perforated, allowing the vitreous gel inside the eye to ooze forward through the pupil

Post-surgery: Infection might have set in because openings were left in the eye tissue.

You’re not sure whether any of the above mistakes were made by your physician. What you do know is that your vision problems are now severely impacting your ability to drive, to perform your regular duties at work, and your everyday activities.  You specifically experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Glare caused by bright lights is a problem.
  • You cannot pass a vision test required to renew your driver’s license.
  • You have double vision.
  • You notice a big difference in vision when you compare one eye to the other.
  • Your eyes feel dry all the time and are very red.
  • You have pain “behind” your eyes.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are no simple matters.  First of all, Indiana law requires that you begin a medical malpractice lawsuit within two years of first discovering the symptoms, so it’s important that you talk with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. If you’re intending to sue for damages over $15,000, the complaint will need to be submitted to a medical malpractice review panel before it can ever go to court.

If there was malpractice, and if it occurred after June 30th of last year (2017), the “cap”, or highest amount the award can be, is $1,650,000.  The healthcare professional who treated you would be liable for the first $400,000, with the remainder coming from the Indiana State Patients’ Fund paying the rest.

“In the civil law arena, one of the most complex and challenging types of claims is a case involving malpractice,” cautions legalbeagle.com. “Attorneys that represent clients in malpractice cases tend to be specialists with a significant amount of experience.” At Ramey & Hailey, our lawyers are here to assist patients in getting the compensation they deserve, not only for the cost of medical treatments and time missed from work, but for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. 

If cataract surgery has left you “seeing red”, start by talking things over with an experienced personal injury attorney!

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