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Failure of ER to Refer to Ophthalmologist

Filed under Emergency Room

The McCrane Case

In this case, the Plaintiff experienced right eye pain, itchiness, swelling and a burning sensation. Plaintiff’s condition worsened to the point that she experienced eye pain and blurred vision in the right eye and sought medical care from the Defendant Hospital emergency room. The Defendant ER physician diagnosed Plaintiff with a right eye abrasion possibly due to an ulcer or infection, administered eye drops and a pressure dressing, and advised her to keep the eye covered and to see her eye doctor sometime during the next week.

The next day, the Plaintiff experienced worsening pain in the right eye; when she removed the eye patch, she found the patch and her eye soaked and encrusted with yellow pus. As a result, she went to another local Hospital, where she treated in the ER and scheduled for an immediate ophthalmology consultation at an eye center in Pittsburgh.

At the eye center, the Plaintiff’s examination revealed a low grade fever, loss of visual acuity on the right; thick, copious purulent (white pus) drainage from the right eye and right papila (fleshy inside corner of the eye); inability to visualize the right pupil due to hypopyon (pus); and an ulcer on the central cornea (colored center of the eye); normal interior eye pressure of 13 on the left and elevated interior eye pressure of 28 on the right. The Plaintiff’s eye drainage was cultured, she had an eye shield, was prescribed artificial tears, topical eye ointment, topical fortified Ancef as an antibiotic, Mylanta for nausea, and morphine for pain. She was ultimately diagnosed with a corneal ulceration and hypopyon (exuding pus). This resulted in Plaintiff undergoing a corneal transplant in an effort to restore visual acuity; however, but she still suffers from severe loss of vision and is functionally blind in the right eye.

Suit was brought in Randolph County, West Virginia against the first ER physician and the Hospital for their failure to immediately refer the Plaintiff to an ophthalmologist and/or major hospital, failing to perform a culture of the eye, failing to administer and prescribed high doses of antibiotics and/or Fluoroquinolones, and for patching of the eye, which was contraindicated, allowing her eye injury to worsen, causing the problems that she suffered, and will continue to suffer into the future.

Prior to trial, this case resulted in a considerable settlement for Plaintiff.