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Blindness after Surgery Tragic but Coincidental


In this medical malpractice case (Chen v. Ross,2014 BCSC 374) the claimant underwent a Membrane Surgery to remove clouding and to peel scar tissue off the lining of the eye. After the surgery the claimant experienced dramatic loss of vision in the left eye, and was eventually assessed as legally blind in that eye. The loss of vision in the claimant’s left eye was devastating to the claimant and the immediate family but, the court dismissed the claim.  Judge Ballance summed it up this way,

[374] In the final analysis, the weight of the evidence establishes that the acute vision loss [the Claimant] suffered…was not causally connected to any act or omission on the part of either of the defendant physicians.  That the timing of its occurrence was in close temporal proximity to the Membrane Surgery was purely coincidental.

The claimant sued the general ophthalmologist claiming the doctor failed to diagnose glaucoma despite the fact that the claimant was at high risk for developing it.  The Claimant also alleged that had he been diagnosed with glaucoma prior to the Membrane Surgery, he would have been referred to a glaucoma specialist and received treatment thus prolonging his sight.
The claimant also condemned the surgeon’s conduct as substandard in  failing to adequately review  medical records; failing to adequately inform the claimant of the general risks inherent in the operation and of the increased risk due to the presence of his glaucoma; and carrying out the Membrane Surgery without adequately managing the claimant’s glaucoma.
On the issue of informed consent the claimant also failed to convince the court that the doctors failed in any way in this regard,

[395] I conclude that a reasonable person in [the Claimant’s] position, being the average prudent person possessing [the Claimant’s] reasonable beliefs, fears, desires, and expectations, would not have declined the Membrane Surgery had the attendant benefits and risks, including the additional warning of up to a one percent increase to the risk of a catastrophic vision loss on account of having glaucoma, been fully disclosed to him.  A properly informed, reasonable person in [the Claimant’s] shoes would have consented to the Membrane Surgery in any event.

The doctors as the successful parties were awarded their legal fees and expenses. Personal injury cases are usually won and lost on facts. Learn more about how to prove negligence in a medical malpractice claim:
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Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.
 
 

Tags: Informed Consent, Legal Causation, Medical Malpractice, Negligence, Ophthalmologist Lawsuit, Personal Injury

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