As Published In
Settlement: Xxxxx and Xxxxxx Varela v. [LU] XXXXX/92
Date of Settlement: 5/10/95
Venue: New York Supreme
Plaintiff Attorney: Eric Turkewitz, Manhattan
This medical malpractice action settled for $450,000 during jury selection.
Plaintiff, age 77, underwent cataract surgery on her left eye on 5/7/91. During the course of the surgery, Defendant reported that there had been a disruption of the vitreous fluid. Three days after the surgery, on 5/10, a Friday, Plaintiff’s husband called Defendant’s office to report that Plaintiff was experiencing blurred vision, redness, swelling, and pain in the eye. Defendant was out of town for the weekend, and Pltfs. testified at their EBTs that Defendant’s receptionist told Plaintiff’s husband to bring his wife into the office 3 days later, on the following Monday. Defendant testified at his EBT that when his receptionist informed him of Plaintiff’s call, he told her to tell Plaintiff that if she felt that it was an emergency that she should either go to a hospital or he would come into the city to see her. The receptionist testified that she asked Plaintiff’s husband if the eye was red and swollen and that she said that she would try to contact Defendant She also testified that she told Plaintiff’s husband that if they thought that it was an emergency, that they should go to an emergency room or come into Defendant’s office. She testified that she gave Pltfs.’ phone number to Defendant Neither the receptionist nor Defendant returned Pltfs.’ call.
Plaintiff contended that she was suffering from endophthalmitis, an infection of the tissues of the eye, a condition that can lead to blindness if not immediately treated. She argued that Defendant should not have left it to her to decide if this was a medical emergency because she and her husband lacked the knowledge to make such a determination. Plaintiff contended that Defendant departed from accepted practice when he failed to advise her that she might be having a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment. Another surgeon performed a vitrectomy on Monday, 5/13, but the vision in the eye could not be saved.
Defendant conceded at his EBT that the disruption of the vitreous fluid made an infection more likely. He argued, however, that Plaintiff failed to follow his suggestion to obtain medical care if the eye was bothering her.
At the time of this settlement, Plaintiff, in her early 80s, had not had the eye enucleated, but it was shrunken and deformed and permanently without vision.
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