An ophthalmologist is able to do all of the things that an optometrist can, but is also trained to be able to diagnosis and treat conditions that require more invasive testing or correction. Patients seeing these specialists may be suffering from severe vision problems due to diseases or medical complications and the actions an ophthalmologist takes can make a marked impact on their quality of living for better or worse. The Chicago ophthalmologist medical malpractice attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers work with those who have needed to make permanent adjustments to their lifestyles to be able to cope with the damage caused by a medical error or failed diagnosis.
A Career in Ophthalmology Requires a Commitment to Education and Training
Those wishing to become ophthalmologists need to dedicate over a decade of their lives to medical training, starting with a degree in medicine or osteopathy. After graduating medical school, future ophthalmologists need to spend a year interning in the field of general medicine before entering a residency program in ophthalmology for up to three years. From there, they may become board certified as ophthalmologists or enter into fellowship programs dedicated to specialization in treatment areas such as corneal disease, glaucoma treatment, ophthalmologic pathology, pediatric ophthalmology or neuro- ophthalmology.
To obtain and maintain board certification, doctors must routinely pass an examination and show that they have continued to invest in ongoing education. Their commitment to taking additional courses throughout their careers will help them stay on top of the latest developments in their fields and to acquire additional skills that can help them perform their duties more effectively. Ophthalmologists are paid extremely well as a result and make an average annual salary of over $325,000 each year.
Despite committing time and energy to continued training and education, the best doctors are cable of making mistakes. This is especially true if they are overbooked or stressed. It is a responsible and wise practice for many doctors to take out insurance policies to cover the damages they may be held liable for if they act negligently. Our Chicago ophthalmology malpractice lawyers find that this information helps some clients who are hesitant to pursue their legal rights out of fear that it will harm their doctor financially.
Conditions Requiring Treatment from an Ophthalmologist
Many medical conditions can have an impact on our sight as well as the physical health of our eyes. An ophthalmologist’s role is to gather information about patients’ current medical conditions, health history and lifestyle when assessing their symptoms and complaints about their vision. Some of the conditions their patients may suffer from include the following.
- Conjunctivitis — also known as pink-eye, conjunctivitis is an infection that causes the lining of the eye to become itchy, inflamed and irritable. It can be treated with antibiotic eye drops and medications. Where it becomes a serious problem is when the infection is not treated in a timely fashion and the patient suffers damage to the eye.
- Glaucoma — this condition is the result of pressure the builds behind the eye, resulting in strain and vision loss. It is remedied through surgical procedures that drain the fluid responsible for the pressure so that vision can be restored.
- Cataracts — when cataracts form over the lens of the eye, it results in cloudy and darkened vision. Surgery is required to remove the cataract, but it is usually possible to restore vision.
- Blurred or diminished vision — vision loss can occur for numerous reasons, but many people suffer progressive vision loss over time naturally and need some form of vision correction to be able to see clearly. If they are not satisfied with glasses or contacts, they may elect to undergo LASIK or PRK surgery, which is performed by an ophthalmologist.
- Ptosis — a dropping eyelid can cause discomfort and affect the patient’s sight. The condition is resolved through a minimally invasive surgical procedure.
- Diabetic retinopathy — diabetes can have an impact on the nervous and cardiovascular systems and elevated glucose levels may damage the retina or the optic nerve. There are numerous treatment methods available to reduce the effects of the damage and to prevent further deterioration from occurring.
As many vision problems are linked to other medical conditions, it is important for ophthalmologists to determine when a problem warrants further investigation by another specialist. In addition to performing diagnostic tests on patients’ eyes, the ophthalmologist may discuss referrals to other doctors if required. The types of tests performed by ophthalmologists include the following.
- General eye examinations — these examinations can allow the doctor to determine whether further testing is required by looking at the eye itself and receiving feedback from the patient to determine how and to what degree his or her vision is impaired.
- Corneal topography — this test maps the surface of the cornea to detect any signs of damage such as scratches, scar tissue and inflammation.
- Fluorescein angiography — during this test, a dye is used to identify problems in the blood vessels in and surrounding the eye.
- Fundus photography — this procedure obtains an image of the optic nerve and the blood vessels that are feeding it.
- Biopsies — the removal of a small amount of abnormal tissue in the eye can help the doctor test for certain conditions.
Medical Malpractice Committed by Ophthalmologists Has Catastrophic Consequences
Medical or surgical errors related to the eyes can cause permanent disability, emotional turmoil and loss of opportunity due to the sudden inability to work. While some victims of malpractice are able to undergo revisionary procedures to correct the damage, others are left with permanent vision loss or blindness. The cost of assistive care for the blind can be exorbitant and places an additional burden on the victim and his or her family.
Examples of negligence our Chicago ophthalmology malpractice lawyers have seen include the following.
- Errors in diagnosis or delay in treatment. The failure of a doctor to provide a diagnosis in a timely fashion can have devastating consequences, even when the original issue was minor. An example is the progression and spread of an infection, which may result in the loss of the eye. Misinterpretation of test results can also lead to diagnosis errors or result in the recommendation of inappropriate treatment measures.
- Failure to order or perform tests. Some cases of misdiagnosis are the result of the complete failure to conduct the tests needed to confirm or rule out a diagnosis.
- Not keeping an accurate medical record. Patient medical records are not only instrumental in assisting doctors with diagnosing patients, but they may also help doctors avoid treatment options that are not appropriate due to the interaction of medication or a medical condition which may complicate a procedure or treatment option.
- Errors during surgery. Tears or lacerations occurring during surgery that are not quickly identified and repaired may lead to permanent vision loss. Making an incision in the wrong location may also cause blindness or other permanent injury.
- Infection due to surgical error or inappropriate recovery procedure. Every surgical procedure opens the patient to the risk of an infection, but eye infections have the potential to do devastating damage. It is important that every reasonable step is taken to prevent and identify infections following surgery and to provide treatment at the first sign.
- Failure to follow up with patients. It is highly common for patients not to be well informed when it comes to their medical procedures. This stems from the trust they have in their physicians, but can also be due to a lack of follow up and communication. In order to make sure that the patient is doing what is needed to ensure a speedy and healthy recover, the ophthalmologist needs to follow up.
- Failure to refer to other doctors or communicate well with the patient’s healthcare team. Some conditions are indicators of problems elsewhere in the body and these concerns need to be relayed to the patient’s primary care physician or a specialist more qualified to treat the underlying concern.
- Medication errors. Providing the wrong medications to patients may result in further complications and even delay the treatment of the original concern. In the worst cases, the patient then needs additional care for the original condition as well as those that arise due to the error.
The permanent loss of vision has horrendous implications on a victim’s quality of living. Those waking up from medical procedures to learn they may never see again endure suffering on a physical and emotional level. They are overcome with worry over how they will support their families now that they are unable to return to work. In addition to needing to learn how to live without vision, they will be constantly reminded of their tragic experience.
Let Our Experienced Ophthalmology Malpractice Lawyers Review Your Case for Free
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has been helping malpractice victims recover the compensation they are entitled to for many years and our medical law team has extensive knowledge, experience and a successful track record. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a medical error, delayed diagnosis, surgical mistake or the failure of your doctor to communicate with you properly, you may also be entitled to receive damages for your medical bills, lost wages, adjusted quality of living, pain and suffering and out of pocket expenses.
Contact us today to arrange a free consultation with one of our award winning Chicago ophthalmologist medical malpractice attorneys so that you can learn more about your rights while we collect the information we need to investigate the matter further. We will review your legal options and answer any questions you have so that you know what you can expect from the process of litigation. Retaining our services comes at no risk as we assure you that we will either secure compensation on your behalf or work completely free of charge.