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Patient awarded $925,000 in VA medical malpractice claim

Surgical errors are very serious and can result in lasting injuries that cannot be fixed by corrective surgery. One man was left partially blind when he had routine cataract surgery at a Veterans Affairs Hospital. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs agreed to pay a $925,000 settlement to the 60-year-old man on the eve of a personal injury trial. Settlements are common in medical malpractice cases such as this one where the negligence of the hospital staff is overwhelmingly clear.

The injury occurred because a third-year resident incorrectly injected local anesthetic directly into the man's eyeball instead of behind the eye. The doctor failed to notice her mistake and injected the anesthetic so quickly that the man's eyeball exploded. It is unclear whether the resident had a history of medical errors or if she was improperly supervised by another surgeon.

The man "suffered excruciating pain after that botched surgery and continued to have severe pain for months afterward," the man's personal injury lawyer said. "The damage to the eye is obvious because his iris is missing and his eyelid droops. If anything should ever happen to the undamaged left eye, he could face total blindness."

Disfigurement and the risk of future total blindness are not the only consequences of this serious surgical mistake. The man worked as a roofer before this tragic mistake but he can no longer return to his job because the loss of his eye resulted in a significant loss of depth perception. The man is resilient however and is now employed in the maintenance department of a university.

Source: Connecticut Post, "VA pays $925,000 in Bridgeport exploding eyeball suit," Daniel Tepfer, 6/27/11

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