Wednesday, April 20, 2011

11.9 FAQ9 - The other right eye

News today on

VANCOUVER, Wash. – When four-year-old Jesse Matlock went in for surgery last Wednesday, doctors were supposed to operate on his right eye to stop it from wandering. But his parents said that’s not what happened.

They said his eye surgeon first mistakenly operated on his left eye, realized her mistake and then repeated the same operation on his right eye – the correct eye.

“I have not noticed any improvement in the right eye and as far as I can tell the left is now wandering,” said Tasha Gaul, Jesse’s mother. Now Gaul is concerned about what this unnecessary surgery will do to his vision in the future.

The surgeon was Dr. Shawn Goodman of Lake Oswego. When KATU called her office on Monday a staff member said she was not in. She has not yet returned messages.

“My husband and I were in awe, we were like ‘can you repeat that again?” Gaul said. “She said, ‘frankly, I lost sense of direction and didn’t realize I had operated on the wrong eye until I was done operating on the eye.’”

The surgery was done at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland. The hospital’s Chief Administrative Officer, said they have procedures to help prevent mistakes like this.

“We have a critical incident team that will be responding to it, that will be interviewing all of our staff in the operating room as well as private practice physicians in the operating room that were involved,” said hospital CAO Dr. Lori Morgan. “Our hope is to never have it happen again in any of our hospitals.”

Dr. Goodman is not a Legacy employee but was using their operating facilities.

“Something went wrong with their checklist,” said Dale Matlock, Jesse’s father. “They came in and circled his eye, for which eye they were going to operate on. Then (Dr. Goodman) proceeded with the left, the wrong eye.”

Jesse’s parents have hired a lawyer and are considering a malpractice suit.

Question: Will the lawsuit be successful?

Answer: Probably not. This appears a case of strabismus surgery - to re-position the extraocular muscles of BOTH eyes so the two eyes can stay straight. Often multiple surgeries are needed. There is no damage to the eyeballs nor to patient's pre-op vision.