Sommers Schwartz attorney Ken Watkins secured a confidential $320,000 settlement on behalf of a woman whose doctor ignored signs and symptoms of glaucoma and ocular hypertension. The plaintiff faithfully saw the defendant ophthalmologist for more than 20 years, including a visit when she complained of redness and pain in her left eye. A test revealed that ocular blood flow in her left eye was elevated with a high level of variance. Despite the report, the defendant indicated that her ocular hypertension was stable and advised her to return in a year. At next visit, her intraocular pressure was again elevated, and an examination also revealed retinal damage due to high blood pressure and blood vessel attenuation in both eyes. The pattern of annual visits, abnormal test results, and inaction by the doctor continued for two more years until the plaintiff awoke one day to discover that half of the vision in her left eye was gone. She immediately called the defendant and left a message to make an appointment, but he never called back, prompting her to contact an optometrist referred by a friend. The optometrist confirmed that there was no acute process but recommended a referral to another ophthalmologist who immediately diagnosed severe open angle glaucoma primarily in the left eye. The patient additionally received a recommendation that she undergo cataract extraction with placement of an intraocular lens unrelated to the glaucoma. The treatment of her glaucoma stabilized the elevated intraocular pressures, but some permanent vision loss had been sustained. The plaintiff claimed that due to the defendant’s medical malpractice, she suffers from substantial and permanent loss of vision that has limited her earning capacity and mobility, and causes her to have accidents from a lack of peripheral vision. A case evaluation panel recommended an award of $225,000 in the plaintiff’s favor, which the defendants accepted but the plaintiff rejected same.
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