The scope of medical malpractice in Oregon and elsewhere includes dental and ophthalmological malpractice. The treatment of the eyes is a complicated area of medical practice. Moreover, eye surgery is a specialized practice that, like most other specialties, can result in surgical error and serious damage to the patient.
In a recent case in another jurisdiction, a jury awarded a 67-year-old female $5 million in a malpractice claim against an ophthalmologist. The doctor was treating the patient for a form of macular degeneration, which was not medically expected to result in blindness. Nonetheless, after years of treatments, the woman went largely blind in her left eye and lost her right eye.
The right eye allegedly shrunk so badly that it had to be surgically excised and replaced by a glass eye. The woman is now legally blind. The lawsuit against the eye doctor alleged that he implemented certain dangerous treatments without the training to know what he was doing. For example, he injected her right eye with an overly aggressive steroid, which quickly led to glaucoma, pain and finally, the need to remove the eye.
The complaint alleged that the doctor's treatments and surgical error aggravated a pre-existing history of glaucoma suffered by the patient. Glaucoma is a condition of high blood pressure in the eye, and the plaintiff's claim was that the steroidal treatments should not have been given to a patient with a prior history of glaucoma. The use of an aggressive steroid for macular degeneration, considering this patient's history, was below the standard of care, per the complaint. After hearing the evidence, including from plaintiff's medical specialists, the jury agreed with the plaintiff and entered its award. The theory of the case and the resolution by the jury is an outcome that would generally hold up under Oregon law.
Source: unionleader.com, "Verdict awards couple $5M after procedures leave woman legally blind", Kevin Landrigan, Dec. 9, 2016