Medical Malpractice Case Report: $1.75 settlement for contraindicated LASIK surgery results in need for bilateral corneal transplants

Firm Partner John F. Eisberg reached a $1,750,000 settlement in a medical mistakes in surgery case involving contraindicated LASIK surgery results in need for bilateral corneal transplants.  Read the following Minnesota Case Report from the Minnesota Association of Justice (MAJ):

Selected Results*

(Excerpts taken with permission from Minnesota Trial Lawyer Association’s (MTLA) “Minnesota Case Reports”) 

This is a medical malpractice case.  In 2001, Defendant ophthalmologist evaluated 43-year-old patient for LASIK surgery.   Patient was  moderately nearsighted with mild astigmatism, but was able to see 20/20 with glasses.   Defendant performed corneal topography to identify signs of corneal irregularity and/or instability that contraindicate LASIK.  Defendant told patient that he was a good candidate for LASIK and  performed LASIK on both of patient’s eyes.  When patient's vision began to deteriorate some months later, defendant performed another evaluation, including corneal topography, and then performed a LASIK enhancement procedure on both of  patient's eyes.  When patient's vision again began to deteriorate, defendant recommended another enhancement.  Patient sought care elsewhere from a cornea specialist (“treating M.D.”).

In mid 2002, treating M.D. diagnosed patient with progressive corneal thinning (“ectasia”) in both eyes as a result of bilateral LASIK and LASIK enhancement.   Patient’s corneas progressively became more unstable with worsening nearsightedness with astigmatism.  Treating M.D. performed penetrating keratoplasties (cornea transplants) on patient’s right eye in 2003, and left eye in 2005.  As a result of the transplants, patient developed cataracts, necessitating cataract surgery in both eyes in 2006.  As a result of the cataract surgeries, he developed secondary membranes and required bilateral YAG laser capsulotomies in summer 2006.

Plaintiff's expert ophthalmologist was a well-respected, nationally known cornea specialist and refractive surgeon.  He opined that defendant’s preoperative corneal topographies showed signs of keratoconus, contraindicating LASIK.  Defendant departed from accepted standards of medical practice by failing to identify signs of keratoconus on both sets of topographies, and by performing LASIK, and LASIK enhancement.  Plaintiff’s expert opined that progressive ectasia resulting in increasing nearsightedness and astigmatism is the predicable outcome of LASIK in the presence of keratoconus.  But for the LASIK procedures, patient likely would not have developed problems from his underlying keratoconus.  All the care provided by treating M.D, and others was a direct result of the contraindicated procedures.  Patient suffered permanent impairment in his vision and even wearing glasses will not consistently achieve good vision for him.  His ability to perform many ADL’s (including driving especially at night or in bad weather, reading or using a computer for more than a short time), is permanently impaired.

Pre-LASIK, patient was employed full-time.  He lost his job in 2004 as a result of his post-LASIK problems. In 2006, patient was able to work about 2-4 hours per day, about 4 days per week.  In fall 2006, patient underwent a vocational / psychological evaluation with Plaintiff’s retained expert, who opined that plaintiff cannot return to his pre-injury employment and is employed at his highest level at this time.  Plaintiff incurred a lifetime loss of earnings of about one million dollars, not reduced to present value.  Later, plaintiff submitted to a defense vocational / psychological evaluation.  That examiner concluded that patient should be able to return to work, and within a few years, should achieve an earning capacity at or greater than his pre-injury level.  

The case settled at mediation shortly before trial.


$ 1,750,000
Case Name:  Patient v. Doctor and Clinic
Date:  Winter, 2006

John F. Eisberg