|A bad Lasik outcome is not necessarily Lasik malpractice.
Learn the difference and what to consider if you have a
If you have complications from conventional or wavefront custom Lasik, Bladeless Lasik, PRK, LASEK, Epi-Lasik, RLE, or any refractive surgery procedure, the idea of suing your doctor
for Lasik malpractice has undoubtedly crossed your mind.
It is easy to fancy thoughts of inflicting financial pain on your
doctor while recovering your costs and receiving a financial remediation
for your difficulties.
Not Our Expertise
Our organization is not involved in the issue of medical malpractice
or Lasik litigation. We focus on helping people considering refractive
surgery get good information, find the better doctors,
and help those with complications find a resolution to their problem
with information and specialized doctor referral. We focus on a
cure, not litigation or financial compensation, but we do offer
some thoughts that may be helpful.
Complication Not Necessarily Malpractice
Malpractice is an issue that is challenging to patient and physician
alike. It can also be very frustrating for the patient suffering
from complications because of an important fact: a complication
is not necessarily malpractice. You may think that because you have
complications the doctor is guilty of malpractice. It is possible,
and indeed more common, that your doctor did everything correctly,
but you had a bad outcome. Even if what occurred to you is highly
irregular and very disturbing, proving malpractice may be difficult.
Any medical malpractice attorney considering taking your case
must determine if there exists what is commonly referred to as the
"magic triangle" of Lasik malpractice litigation: negligence, causation,
and damages. Without all three, there is almost no likelihood of
prevailing in court. Without the right balance, a malpractice suit
may not be worth the time and effort to pursue.
Starting with negligence, it is important to remember that, unfortunately,
patients have bad outcomes when the Lasik doctor is not negligent.
The doctor can do everything correctly, but the dynamics of surgery
and every patient's individual response may result in an outcome
that is not desired. If the doctor is not negligent, then malpractice
has not occurred. A part of negligence is the informed consent.
If the doctor did not provide the patient with a reasonable explanation
of what is known that could go wrong, the Lasik doctor may be considered
negligent - even though the informed consent does not directly relate
to what happens in the operating room.
Causation is a big issue too. What actually caused the bad Lasik
outcome may not be able to be determined to the level necessary
to meet the requirements of law. As an example: a microkeratome
may malfunction, but if it was manufactured, maintained, and used
properly, it may be impossible to identify the cause. Every person
responds differently to surgery. It is possible that the cause of
the problem is unique to you and would not have been predictable
with the knowledge and understanding at the time.
Damages is a surprisingly difficult issue. Remember that a malpractice
suit is about receiving money - not about changing the way a doctor
does something (although that may be a result). What, exactly, is
the monetary value of not being able to drive at night? If you are
a professional driver or pilot, the value may be very high. If you
work at home and use public transport, the monetary value may be
surprisingly low. If you don't have a driver's license, the monetary
value of the damage is almost zilch. Even if the doctor was negligent
and directly caused the problem, if the problem does not cause significant
monetary damage (including pain and suffering), then a malpractice
suit may be only an exercise in futility.
This is a gross oversimplification of a very complex situation
and every individual patient's circumstance is different. But what
is true is that Lasik patients may have a bad outcome, but not have
an actionable claim. This can be very frustrating for a patient
with surgery-related vision problems.
USAEyes will do what we can to help you through your vision
difficulties and, we hope, get them resolved. Only you can decide
if litigation is an appropriate response to your situation. Only
an evaluation by an appropriate legal representative can help you
choose the best course of action on this front.
Looking For Best Lasik Surgeon?
If you are ready to choose a doctor to be evaluated for conventional
or custom wavefront Lasik, Bladeless Lasik, PRK, or any refractive surgery procedure, we recommend you consider a doctor who has been evaluated and certified by the USAEyes nonprofit organization.
Locate a USAEyes Evaluated & Certified Lasik Doctor.
If this article did not fully answer your questions, use our
free Ask Lasik Expert patient forum.