Atlee Hall Resolves Medical Malpractice Case Involving Failed YAG Laser Procedure

Written By Melissa Jabour

Atlee Hall recently resolved a case against a local ophthalmologist who failed to ensure that a laser used during his patient’s procedure was placed on the correct “mode” or setting. As a result of the failed procedure, our client has multiple, permanent scotomas, or blind spots, in her left eye.

Our client had undergone cataract surgery on her left eye several years ago, and she later developed posterior capsule opacification (PCO) in that eye. PCO is a complication that can happen after having cataract surgery and occurs when cells remaining after the surgery grows over the back of the lens capsule, causing it to thicken and become slightly opaque, or cloudy. This means that light is less able to travel through to the patient’s retina.

The condition can be treated with a relatively quick, outpatient laser procedure to make vision clear again. Laser treatment for PCO is carried out using a very low energy laser called YAG. The YAG laser is focused on the back of the individual’s lens capsule in order to cut away a small circle-shaped area. This removes enough of the lens to allow light to pass directly through to the retina.

Approximately six years after her left eye cataract surgery, our client presented to a local ophthalmologist for an appointment, and she was advised to undergo a YAG laser procedure that day. The ophthalmologist admitted that he made several laser shots in an attempt to make a hole in our client’s posterior capsule; however, the laser had been put into the wrong “mode” or setting. As a result, our client has permanent blind spots in her left eye, which make reading and other everyday activities difficult. Ultimately, the case resolved to our client’s satisfaction.

This case highlights the fact that even relatively minor outpatient procedures can have serious consequences if health care providers are not careful. By holding negligent medical professionals accountable for their actions, healthcare becomes safer for everyone. When doctors are held responsible for their actions, other medical professionals take note and change their systems to ensure safety for every patient.