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Every medical procedure has risks, whether it is an invasive or non-invasive treatment. This does not mean that people should be warned off undergoing surgery altogether – on the contrary, many operations are life-saving or have the potential to greatly improve lives. However, patients should be made fully aware of the risks prior to giving their consent to treatment.

Some operations can have miraculous results. For example, laser eye surgery has the potential to restore a person’s sight so that they no longer need corrective lenses. However, this form of treatment requires a high level of specialist skill and if you are injured due to the negligent actions of the professional, you may have grounds for a clinical negligence claim.

Laser eye surgery and clinical negligence

If you have been suitably warned about the risks of having the procedure performed, and something has gone wrong, your surgeon has a stronger chance of avoiding liability than if he or she had failed to make you aware of the dangers.

However, if your clinician underplayed the risks of the operation – a Which? study conducted in 2009 found three well-known laser eye clinics had done this – then you could stand a higher chance of securing compensation.

“Patients need to understand what the risks are,” says the Medical Defence Union.

The organisation added, “they need to think about whether or not the benefits they think they will get from the procedure actually outweigh the risks, in order to decide whether they want to go ahead with it.”

Furthermore, if clinical negligence results in you suffering long-term problems, such as corneal ectasia, you may be entitled to claim compensation for these injuries.

Potential problems caused by incorrectly performed laser eye surgery include dry eyes, sometimes resulting in chronic eye inflammation, reduced night vision, the appearance of ‘floaters’ and blindness.

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  • Jonathan was able to help the husband of a 50 year old woman claim compensation after the hospital failed to diagnose her cancer. Mrs L attended hospital complaining of pain in her abdomen. She was discharged without further tests but unfortunately she died of thyroid cancer a few months later. Jonathan argued that the chance for a liver biopsy was missed during her visit to hospital and although this would not affect the unfortunate outcome, palliative care could have been arranged to ease Mrs L’s suffering. Jonathan was able to secure Mrs L’s husband a five figure sum in compensation.
  • Jonathan has also helped the family of a 71 year old man claim compensation after a complication in his surgery caused his death. Mr R was suffering from chest pains and was admitted to hospital for tests. He was found to have an issue with his heart and doctors attempted to rectify this with a surgical procedure. Unfortunately during this procedure an air pocket had got into one of his blood vessels which caused Mr R’s death. With expert medical evidence Jonathan was able to secure Mr R’s family £75,000 in compensation.
  • Jonathan helped X get further compensation and access to services to aid in his rehabilitation. X was a subject of sexual abuse from his step father between the ages of 5 and 7. Initial application for compensation was made in 1990 and X was awarded £10,000. After several attempts at his own life, X decided to contact Jonathan to seek further compensation. Jonathan was able to secure X £200,000 in compensation and an overall award of £1,200,000 inclusive of state benefits. More importantly Jonathan then arranged the Special Needs Trust to support X’s rehabilitation.
  • Jonathan helped the parents of Baby B claim compensation after a failure in care during labour resulted in Baby B’s death. Initially the Trust denied they were responsible for Baby B’s death but after negotiations the Trust admitted responsibility and Jonathan was able to negotiate an out of court settlement for Baby B’s parents.
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