It’s common knowledge that out of all the other body parts, the eyes are the most delicate ones. Not to mention, the retina is one of the most sensitive and delicate parts of all. The light entering the eyes is captured by the retina which is then sent to the brains to create the image that we see. To summarize, the retina is the most delicate organ and any sort of injuries to it can hamper your daily lifestyle. Having retinal detachment is therefore one of the most distressing experiences. Problems like vision loss, impaired vision, and blurred vision are some of the causes of retinal damage. Some of the symptoms that you can face include- flashes of light, shadows, etc. In the case of retinal detachment, the retina pulls away from the choroid, and therefore, it stops functioning and gradually you’re likely to face vision loss.
Eye damages can take a heavy toll on your life if you don’t seek immediate medical attention. The faster you get your problems cured, the better will be the chances of recovering from the eye damage. In case of delayed diagnosis, you may need to opt for complex procedures such as surgery. If you have sustained vision loss due to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, or if you face severe injuries while the surgery was on, then you’ll be considered a victim of a medical malpractice case. If you believe that you’ve been a victim of medical negligence, an expert ophthalmologist witness can help you with your rights.
Before discussing the role of eye expert witnesses, it is important to know about retinal detachment and how malpractices may occur.
Causes of retinal detachment:
Usually, retinal detachment takes place among the old age groups. It is an age-related problem and usually happens because of the shrinking of the vitreous gel. As this gel shrinks, it may lead to a small tear or hole in which fluid accumulation may take place sinking the linkage of the retina to the choroid. This causes detachment of the retina that requires immediate medical guidance.
People who are at risk of retinal detachment:
Retinal detachment may occur in:
- Near-sighted people
- Someone who had undergone eye surgery
- People who have had cataract surgery
Symptoms of retinal detachment:
People having retinal detachment may not feel any pain but they might have some other symptoms that they shouldn’t ignore. Retinal detachments cause dark shadows- often like a curtain or veil which, if left untreated, can cause permanent vision loss in the future. If you face any of these visual disturbances, it’s important to get in touch with a medical professional.
It’s important to seek medical help from reputed eye doctors because any kind of misdiagnosis or surgical error can not only lead to malpractice but also permanent damages to your vision. In the case of malpractices, you have to get re-diagnosed for which you need to pay your medical bills all over again. Besides this, you’ll also have to bear expenses for medical treatments and other treatments that’ll be required. This gives you the right to seek monetary compensation from the party responsible for your injury. At times, it may be the negligence of the hospital staff, nurses, and other working staff assisting the surgeon while treating you. In that case, the surgeon cannot be considered responsible for the injury.
Risks of retinal detachment:
Like every other surgery, retina surgery also comes with several risks and complications. The surgeon has to be very careful before providing treatment. At some point, non-surgical treatments like medications or eye drops may not work and you need to opt for surgical procedures. However, the surgeon has to be very cautious before providing such treatment. Most of the surgical malpractices take place because of the doctor failing to communicate with the patient regarding the surgery, its advantages, and risks. The previous medical history of the patient and medical tests should be done to find out any other underlying medical conditions. This is important because these surgeries may not be suitable for all the patients. For instance, you are not suitable for laser eye surgery if:
- You have an unstable prescription.
- You have an irregular or thin cornea
- Your prescription is outside the safe range of treatment.
These are the instances where retinal surgery may not be a good option for you. The above conditions have to be thoroughly analyzed by the surgeon to avoid malpractice lawsuits against them. The future course of action should be decided in accordance with the health condition of the patient. Besides discussing the risks and benefits, it is also important to get informed consent from the patient. Now the question is what is meant by informed consent?
Informed consent is the process of seeking approval from patients before conducting surgery or another medical intervention. It’s an agreement that happens between you and your healthcare provider on the permission of treatment and services. The consent should be both in verbal and written forms. This is done to ensure that the patient is ready for the surgery despite knowing the risks and benefits. If the doctor fails to consider these aspects, the patient can file malpractice litigation against them.
Now, let’s discuss some of the risks and complications that you might face due to the negligence of the surgeon.
As discussed above, the surgeons need to analyze the health condition of the patient before deciding the further course of action. For instance, several patients might have allergic reactions to anesthesia and this should be taken into consideration. Breathing problems may also happen because of the same reasons. Certain prescription tablets may not be suitable for the patients so the medications have to be given in accordance with the patient’s condition. If the retina has been already damaged before reattachment, permanent loss of vision can occur.
Retinal detachment can be cured in a single operation but in some exceptional cases, the patient might require multiple surgical operations. It has been observed that around 90% of the patients can get cured in a single surgical procedure. However, in 10% of cases, the damages couldn’t be repaired. In the case of permanent detachments, the patients may have either poor vision or complete loss of vision in the eye. All these complications could be a result of surgical malpractice and in some cases, there can be contributory negligence as well. This is one of the main reasons why an eye surgery expert witness is a must in malpractice litigations. In this context, the reader should know how these expert witnesses help in malpractice claims.
Roles and responsibilities of eye expert witnesses:
Before understanding the roles, the first thing that you must know is who is an ophthalmologist expert witness? Ophthalmologist expert witnesses are eye surgeons having licenses to testify in medical negligence cases. These witnesses are called upon by the legal representative of the plaintiff to determine if there has been a case of malpractice during the eye surgery or treatment. They are extremely beneficial for not only the attorneys but also the jurors. Medical negligence cases are extremely critical and involve complex elements. These experts are called to simplify these complex elements and explain them to the court so that it becomes easier for the decision-makers to understand. Besides this, an expert witness is called to perform the following roles:
- To establish if the surgeon deviated from the established standards of care.
- Offer a verbal opinion on the case depending on the case facts and findings
- Prepares a written report on the findings
- Appears as a court witness to testify or provide a deposition.
Usually, a retina surgery expert witness needs to establish 4 essential grounds that have been explained below. These grounds have to be established to show the fault of the surgeon. The main aim is to prove that the injuries sustained by the patient are a direct result of the negligence of the surgeon and not because of other underlying medical conditions. To get your deserving compensation, it’s important to seek legal representation.
Duty of care–
Duty of care in a medical context refers to the duty of the doctor or the health professional towards the patient. Malpractices can happen only if the doctor failed to provide care in accordance with the established standards. The doctors need to adhere to these standards and act professionally while providing care to the patient. Therefore, the first essential element to prove in a malpractice case is the duty of care.
Breach of duty of care–
There can be a case of malpractice if the surgeon has breached the duty of care towards the patient. This is one of the crucial things that need to be proved in order to receive your compensation. A retina surgery expert witness is called upon to determine how the surgeon has violated the duty of care towards the patient. The procedure relies on establishing the fault of the doctor, surgeon, or the other medical staff whoever is responsible for the injury. The claimant can ask for compensation which needs to be returned by the defendant for causing such negligence. Compensation will not only be for monetary expenses but also the pain and sufferings endured as a consequence of the injury.
In this, the attorneys have to prove that the patient has sustained injuries because of the negligence of the doctor. In other words, the patient has suffered injuries as a direct result of the breach of the surgeon.
The attorney has to prove that the actions of the doctor have caused injury to the patient. In other words, the patient has sustained injuries because of the direct negligence of the doctor. Frankly speaking, one of the toughest jobs in malpractice cases is to prove causation and harm. Proving this relation cannot be done by attorneys alone. This is one of the reasons why an eye expert witness is crucial in a malpractice case.
In order to get your claims, these 4 grounds need to be established. If your attorney and the expert witness are successful in proving all these grounds, the outcome of the case shall be in your favor. However, this is possible only when you retain an experienced and knowledgeable expert witness for the case. In this context, one needs to keep in mind the following factors before hiring an attorney. Honestly speaking, experience and CV won’t count if your expert witness cannot persuade the jury to believe in their case reviews and facts. Determining whether or not the case requires an expert is less difficult than finding a qualified expert.
- Testifying experience– One of the first things to look for is the trial and deposition experience of the experts. When an expert has a huge experience in handling several cases, they’ll know the best ways to avoid traps, defend opinions, and effectively communicate their opinions to the jury.
- Must be an expert in the subject matter– The experts should have technical, scientific, and specialized knowledge for the cases in which they are testifying. Besides this, they should also have knowledge of calculating damages. Usually, the experts are called upon to calculate the economic damages. Based on that, the non-economic damages shall also be calculated depending on the gravity of the case.
These are some of the factors that need to be kept in mind before choosing an expert. So if you think that there has been malpractice, then you should get in touch with an attorney as soon as you can. This is because there’s a time limit within which the lawsuit has to be filed. Usually, medical malpractice claims have a two-year deadline. If you miss this deadline, you won’t be able to sue your doctor or seek compensation for the same reason. Remember that eyes are delicate organs and you should immediately seek legal help in case of malpractice.