LASIK, eye surgery risks and medical malpractice

Any surgery comes with risks. This fact sometimes gets glossed over, though, in patient-surgeon discussions. This is true for emergency surgeries, but also elective surgeries, including plastic or cosmetic surgery and eye procedures.

Patients are typically focused on the benefits of having the surgery. For most surgeons—who do this type of work every day—performing surgeries and procedures are routine and complications are rare. That explains why risks are often not at the front of their minds.

The standard of care, though, requires a robust conversation between a surgeon and patient to obtain informed consent. Under Texas law, informed consent is a non-delegable duty of the surgeon, which cannot be assigned to a nurse or other personnel. I should mention that just because it’s not supposed to be done that way, it seems to be common practice!

To have true informed consent, the surgeon must discuss with the patient the risks and benefits of the proposed procedure or treatment, compared with the risks and benefits of alternatives, including no treatment at all.

LASIK and informed consent

LASIK is a type of eye surgery. It’s a laser refractive surgery that can correct some types of poor vision. It changes the shape of the eye itself and can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

A majority of Americans wear prescription eyeglasses. Data show that LASIK is a successful surgery that gives around 90% of patients 20/20 vision. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular.

Then again, like other types of surgery, LASIK is not without risks. In fact, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it is considering a new policy requiring ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) to provide patients considering LASIK surgery with a written set of warnings about potential complications, including:

• Double vision

• Dry eyes

• Persistent pain

• The possibility of still needing eyeglasses after surgery

• Depression and suicidal ideation

These are the risks that can happen even with appropriate care. It doesn’t address the bad things that can happen when there’s medical malpractice.

The FDA is also considering warning that LASIK might not be a good choice for patients with eye inflammation, a thin cornea, autoimmune or connective tissue disease, uncontrolled diabetes, or uncontrolled glaucoma.

Some ophthalmologists have expressed concern that the potential of the warnings may spook some patients because they don’t give a balanced analysis of the benefits of a surgery felt to be safe.

If you’ve been seriously injured because of LASIK or another eye surgical procedure, then contact a top-rated and experienced Texas medical malpractice attorney for a free strategy session about your potential case.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.