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$1,350,000 Recovery in Cataract Surgery Resulting in Monocular Blindness Case

Daryl L. Zaslow of Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP (Edison, Red Bank and Toms River), obtained a $1,350,000 settlement on behalf of a 77-year-old woman who lost vision in her left eye following a cataract extraction performed on July 18, 2012.

On July 18, 2012, Mr. Zaslow’s client presented for cataract extraction with intraocular lens implant of the left eye to be performed by the Defendant ophthalmologist. Before the operation began the anesthesiologist for the procedure, who was also a Defendant, noted that the patient was having problems with coughing prior to the start of the surgery. Although both Defendant physicians observed the patient coughing prior to the inception of the procedure neither considered the degree of coughing to pose a risk to the patient. As such, the surgery was initiated, and the Operative Report notes the patient was coughing and that she was “repeatedly” asked to clear her throat.

After the lens capsule was opened, the patient began to cough uncontrollably. A nasal choroidal hemorrhage developed, and the remainder of the operation was aborted without the placement of an intraocular lens. Following her eye surgery, the Plaintiff developed retinal complications which Mr. Zaslow and Plaintiff’s experts argued were caused from the Defendants’ decision to proceed with this elective surgery on a patient who was demonstrating periods of uncontrollable coughing and concomitant movement prior to the inception of the procedure. As a result, despite multiple procedures by retinal specialists she lost sight in her left eye.
Mr. Zaslow served experts reports from an ophthalmologist and an anesthesiologist who opined the defendant ophthalmologist and defendant anesthesiologist both had an independent duty to suspend this elective procedure well before it was started.

The defense and their experts maintained that although the patient did demonstrate some mild coughing prior to the start of surgery, she was able to stop coughing before the surgery was started, so proceeding with the surgery was appropriate. They further maintained that the patient first developed “uncontrollable” coughing only after the capsulorrhexis had been formed, and at that point the procedure could not be stopped without significant risk to the patient.