A North Carolina medical malpractice jury found against the defendant ophthalmologist after a trial that concluded on August 19, 2014 in which it awarded the plaintiff damages in the amount of $1.5 million for the total loss of his eyesight in his left eye, for which the ophthalmologist will be responsible for close to $2 million once interest at the rate of 8% per year is added that has been accruing since the ophthalmologist malpractice lawsuit was first filed in January 2011.
What was supposed to be a routine cataract removal surgery on the plaintiff’s left eye in 2008 went horribly wrong when the wrong medication was used during the surgery.
The defendant ophthalmologist ordered a dye called VisionBlue that is used to stain the cataract in the effected eye so that the cataract can be safely visualized and removed during cataract removal surgery. Testimony during the medical malpractice trial established that the ophthalmologist ordered the correct medication but the nurse who filled the order brought methylene blue instead (methylene blue can damage the eye). The nurse handed the methylene blue to the surgical technician, announcing that she was handing the technician methylene blue. The surgical technician then handed the medication to the surgeon, also announcing that she was handing him methylene blue. The defendant ophthalmologist contended that he did not hear either the nurse or the surgical technician state that the medication he was handed was methylene blue.
The defendant ophthalmologist applied the methylene blue to the patient’s left eye during the cataract surgery, which severely damaged his eye. Corrective surgery was done at the same hospital, but it was ineffective in repairing the damage done by the methylene blue. A corneal transplant was attempted to save the man’s sight, but his body rejected the implant. The plaintiff is now blind in his left eye and has glaucoma due to the multiple corrective surgeries. In his right eye, he has 20/20 vision.
What Is Methylene Blue?
Methylene blue is a chemical compound used in chemistry and biology. Methylene blue turns blue when it is dissolved in water but is a dark green powder that is odorless in its solid state. It is often described as the first fully synthetic drug used in medicine: its use in treating malaria began in 1891 and it was used for that purpose during World War II. Since the 1890s, it has been researched for its antidepressant and psychotropic effects. It has been used in large doses as an antidote to potassium cyanide poisoning, was used in the past for carbon monoxide poisoning, and is presently being investigate for its use in certain cancer treatment.
The official Safety Data Sheet for methylene blue warns that if there is contact of methylene blue with the eyes, “Immediately flush with plenty of water for up to 15 minutes. Remove any contact lenses and open eyes wide apart. Get medical attention if any discomfort continues.” However, under the heading “Information on toxicological effects,” the Safety Data Sheet states, “Serious eye damage/irritation: Based on available data the classification criteria are not met.”
If you or a family member were injured by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist), you should promptly seek the legal advice of a medical malpractice attorney in your state who handles claims against ophthalmologists, who may investigate your ophthalmologist claim for you and represent you in a ophthalmologist malpractice case, if appropriate.
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