Delay in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Eye Infection, Resulting in Blindness

Prior to trial, WRSH Partner Jason Rubin reached a $1.55 million settlement in a medical malpractice case involving a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of endophthalmitis (eye infection), resulting in blindness in the plaintiff's right eye.

Plaintiff, a 40 year old woman, had a long history of eye problems in both eyes, including multiple cornea transplants. In March 2006 she called defendant, her ophthalmologist, with complaints of redness and photophobia in her right eye. According to plaintiff, the doctor advised her to use pred forte (corticosteroid) drops in the eye and to come to the office if she did not improve within a couple of days. According to the doctor, he recommended to plaintiff that she come to his office immediately for evaluation, but she refused. The doctor's office chart supported plaintiff's version of the events inasmuch as it indicated that she was advised to take pred forte and to come in if she did not improve - they did not document a recommendation to come to his office nor plaintiff's alleged refusal to do so. Two days later, after her eye did not improve, plaintiff presented to defendant's office with a red, painful and photophobic right eye. She was sent immediately to the hospital where she was diagnosed with severe endophthalmitis. Despite treatment with injections of antibiotics, she became blind in the right eye.

If the case had gone to trial, Jason would have argued that defendant's version of events was completely belied by his office chart, which did not document a recommendation to come to his office or plaintiff's refusal to do so. Furthermore, he would have argued that giving pred forte alone, without antibiotics, was a departure from accepted medical practice inasmuch as plaintiff's complaints of redness and photophobia were consistent with a cornea ulcer or infection. If it was a corneal ulcer, she was at risk for development of an infection. Pred forte, a corticosteroid, inhibits the immune response and can exacerbate and mask an infection. Jason would have argued that if plaintiff had been started on a broad spectrum antibiotic at the time of the phone call, severe endophthalmitis would have been avoided and plaintiff would not have lost her vision.

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