If you're considering LASIK, it's best to find out if the surgeon has been sued. Unfortunately, obtaining this information can be difficult. A trip to the county courthouse may be the only way to determine whether there are existing or past lawsuits against a surgeon. Some counties make public records available online. It's also a good idea to check with your state medical board for disciplinary action against a surgeon.
NEED AN ATTORNEY?
If you are a victim of LASIK medical malpractice, you will need to find an attorney. We are providing a list of attorneys who are known to have helped LASIK patients in the past, or who have expressed an interest in taking LASIK cases: ATTORNEY LIST
If you are a plantiff attorney and would like to be added to this list, please email:
Class Action Lawsuit Filed for Illegal Use of Nidek Lasers for LASIK - October, 2008
A class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Southern California alleges a laser manufacturer, Nidek, and numerous defendant physicians engaged in a nationwide scheme and conspiracy to alter the laser software and hardware to enable it to perform non-FDA approved farsighted treatments, subjecting thousands of unsuspecting patients to substantial risk of serious injury.
Alcon Sued for Product Liability Over Defective LADAR6000 Laser - August, 2008
The LASIK industry generally, and defendants in particular, profess that the surgical laser systems used to perform the surgery are safe. However, on February 21, 2007, the United States Food and Drug Administration recalled defendants' excimer surgical laser system, known as the LADAR6000 Excimer Laser (the LADAR6000) due to reports that the LADAR6000's CustomCornea Myopia and CustomCornea Myopia with Astigmatism algorithm procedures were causing central islands in patients.
Report your surgeon to the state medical board
You can verify a surgeon's license to practice medicine, check for disciplinary action, or file a complaint against a surgeon with your state medical board online. Contact information for state medical boards can be found at this link:
LASIK patients with complications are routinely told to "give it time" while the clock ticks down on the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Louis E. Probst, MD, when asked how to proceed with a LASIK patient who developed a severe, vision-threatening complication: "The most important step in this patient's care is to 'kill him with kindness'. The statute of limitations for medical liability may not have expired in some states."
Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today, September 2007
If you feel you are a victim of LASIK malpractice, you might find this link helpful:
Pupil Size Lawsuits
There have been several LASIK medical malpractice lawsuits based on pupil size. Unfortunately, these cases are challenging for the plantiff due to phony "expert" witnesses -- hired guns for the defense who are paid to give bogus testimony about pupil size. A true "expert" knows that pupil size is a critical factor in quality of vision after LASIK. When a pupil size case makes it to trial, and a jury sees all the evidence, these cases can be won. Here are two pupil size cases that caught the attention of the LASIK industry:
Malpractice lawsuits related to refractive surgery on the rise
OSN SuperSite Top Story 1/19/2005
Surgeon: Protect yourself from lawsuits in refractive surgery practice
WAIKOLOA, Hawaii – With a large increase in the volume of refractive surgical procedures in recent years, the number of malpractice lawsuits related to refractive surgery is also rising, said Neal A. Sher, MD, FACS.
“We’re all able to be sued by any patient at any time. The situation is murkier than ever,” Dr. Sher said to attendees here at Hawaii 2005, The Royal Hawaiian Eye Meeting.
Reasons for the rise in lawsuits include the large volume of cases, high patient expectations, inadequate training of some surgeons and unprofessional advertising, Dr. Sher said. Other causes can include offhand comments made to patients by other physicians or staff, and the increasing sophistication of plaintiff’s lawyers concerning refractive surgery, he said.
Dr. Sher advised surgeons to adhere to guidelines set forth by the Federal Trade Commission, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery and the American Academy of Ophthalmology regarding appropriate advertising.
He shared several other tips: The surgeon should be available for the management of complications, should regularly update informed consent documents, and should discuss issues such as monovision and presbyopia with the patient preoperatively so that he or she understands all the risks and potential complications.
Dr. Sher said surgeons should inform patients when the procedure being performed is off-label. He also advised against performing multiple attempts at suction in the same eye. When significant complications develop during surgery on the first eye of a patient, Dr. Sher recommended abandoning the idea of second eye surgery.
Richard L. Lindstrom, MD, who moderated the session, added that every refractive surgeon should expect to be sued at least three times during his or her career, based on statistics. Surgeons should not take lawsuits personally, should get the best attorney possible – not just the one recommended by the insurance company – and should not settle the case too easily, Dr. Lindstrom suggested.
“It’s a tough world out there, and it’s not getting any better. Most important, be sure to support legislators who favor tort reform,” Dr. Lindstrom said.
An Eye for an Eye: Professor James O'Reilly Speaks Out
"My interest in LASIK arose at a Christmas party. I have published 28 textbooks and 135 articles, and the Supreme Court called me the "expert" on FDA approval of medical device products. So when I sat next to an eye surgeon I asked him if he does a lot of LASIKs, and he replied "No, I don't think these are safe but it will be years before we see the effects and know for sure." That was a chilling comment, so I looked back at what FDA had required and was startled that so little experience base is needed before approval. That led me to the American Academy of Ophthalmology statistics person and to the insurance folks, and as I went forward with this little line of curiosity I came to recognize that there will be literally thousands whose injury will have no recourse -- and that they are the future victims of the inactivity today."
Jack M. Dodick, MD: The most urgent issue Opthalmologists face Today is Legal
"What are the most urgent issues that ophthalmologists currently face? Unfortunately, they are not medically related but legally and financially driven. Serious problems with regard to malpractice litigation, decreasing reimbursement, and encroachment by optometrists are challenging ophthalmologists. For example, decreasing reimbursements have resulted in many physicians’ opting out of therapeutic procedures such as cataract surgery. They feel that their livelihoods depend upon patient-reimbursed elective procedures such as cosmetic or refractive surgery. With improvements in surgical techniques, patients’ expectations have risen, creating a smaller permissable margin of error for surgeons and increasing malpractice rates. It is sad and telling to see the children of ophthalmologists pursuing careers outside of ophthalmology for these reasons."
Lawsuits Mount for LASIK: LA Times
Patients unhappy with the results of Lasik surgery are increasingly suing doctors and clinics for compensation, complaining that the procedure actually worsened their vision and, in the most extreme cases, left them legally blind. The settlements are encouraging attorneys to pursue additional cases, even as they shed light on the procedure's risks. Five recent lawsuits generated judgments in the million-dollar range, and at least 200 other cases are in the pipeline, according to Washington, D.C., attorney Aaron M. Levine, chairman of the American Trial Lawyers Assn.'s Lasik litigation group.
"Laser in-situ keratomileusis vision correction surgery malpractice lawsuits are on the rise, due in part to a growing number of web sites that encourage dissatisfied patients to sue surgeons. LASIK malpractice web sites garnering attention include seattleclassaction.com, lasikdisaster.com, and lasikinfocenter.net."
"To counter the negative perceptions and innacurate information people have been receiving about LASIK, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery will be launching a public information campaign in June. “We encourage people to get accurate and balanced information about the procedure,” said John Ciccone, ASCRS director of communications."