Medical Malpractice ­ Failure To Diagnose Ophthalmologic Condition - $1,750,000

Failure To Diagnose Ophthalmologic Condition in Infant $1,750,000
Injuries alleged: Blindness
Court: Withheld
Amount of settlement
: $1.75 million

Case Summary:
The minor plaintiff was born at 28 weeks' gestation with a birth weight of 1265 grams. At age 32 weeks, he underwent an examination by the defendant ophthalmologist to rule out a condition known as Retinopathy of Prematurity. The defendant evaluated the child and reported that "the peripheral retina was fully vascularized" and failed to schedule any further follow-up examination.

Several months later, the child was brought by his mother to the emergency department of another hospital after she noticed that her child was not "tracking" with his eyes. Upon examination, the retinas were determined to be completely detached, and he soon thereafter was diagnosed with Stage V retinopathy of prematurity. Despite repeated surgeries, the child remains blind in both eyes.

The plaintiff was prepared to present testimony of a highly qualified pediatric ophthalmologist, who was prepared to testify that given the minor child's prematurity and birth weight, he was at risk for developing Retinopathy of Prematurity and that standards of care at that time required the defendant to conduct ophthalmologic evaluations until such time as the retinopathy of prematurity was either diagnosed or properly excluded. The plaintiff's expert, as well as the world literature, stated that the child needed to be assessed regularly until approximately 36-40 weeks' gestational age and that the gestational age at the time of the one and only ophthalmological check was well prior to the time that one would expect to see full vascularization, which the defendant claimed he saw. It was this expert's opinion, to a reasonable medical certainty, that the child could not have been fully vascularized as the defendant had stated in his record.

The case settled at the conclusion of discovery.