Botched Surgery Leaves Illinois Woman Blind – Jury Awards $1.75 Million in Larson v. Miller Eye Center

An Illinois jury found for the plaintiff in a recent Illinois surgical malpractice lawsuit. The medical malpractice case involved claims that the defendant ophthalmologist performed an unnecessary and improper surgical procedure on the plaintiff, leaving her blind and with the loss of one of her eyes. After a one week trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $1.75 million in Larson v. Miller Eye Center.
At the time of the Illinois surgical malpractice, 75 year-old Shirley Larson had been a patient of ophthalmologist Dr. Miller for more than 13 years. The majority of her treatment under Dr. Miller was for glaucoma, a condition in which increased intraocular pressure promotes vision loss by causing damage to the optic nerve.

In 2003, Dr. Miller recommended that Larson undergo a new surgical procedure to treat her glaucoma. The procedure was known as endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation (ECP), which was touted as an advancement due to it allowing the surgeon to target the tissue to be treated by direct visualization with less potential damage to surrounding tissue. The ECP would include an incision in the eye, with a laser being used to reduce the amount of fluid produced by the eye.

Dr. Miller had never performed an ECP prior to operating on Ms. Larson; his only training was a one-day course he had attended. When operating on the plaintiff, instead of making just two small incisions in the globe of the eye, Dr. Miller made an additional third incision.

It was only after making this third incision that Dr. Miller noticed blood pooling in the back of the plaintiff’s left eye. This blood was the result of a catastrophic choroidal hemorrhage, which caused total and permanent blindness in her left eye; prior to the surgery her vision in that eye was 20/30. In addition to the permanent blindness, in 2006 the plaintiff required a prosthetic shell to cover her damaged eye, which had continued to shrivel up as a result of the surgery.

At trial, the plaintiff asserted that Dr. Miller was negligent in performing the ECP procedure, which plaintiff’s experts claimed was unnecessary given that her glaucoma and optic nerve were stable and that there were increased risks for hemorrhage during the surgery. Plaintiff further argued that she was given incorrect eye drops given during the procedure, which as opposed to helping, in fact increased her intraocular pressure and caused her corneal edema.

In response, the defense argued that the patient’s glaucoma had been worsening, that she was non-compliant as a patient in that she had missed appointments and was not taking her medications, and that the ECP was necessary because it was a prelude to a future corneal transplant. However, the defense did admit that the eye drops prescribed were below the standard of care, but claimed they were not the cause the of her hemorrhage. However, it seems that the jury found more evidence to support the plaintiff’s claims and awarded $1.75 million to the elderly woman for the loss of her eye.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois surgical malpractice lawsuits for over 30 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Woodridge, Roscoe Village, Tinley Park, and Lake Zurich.

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