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Patient Awarded $2.5 Million After Suffering Endoscopic Sinus Errors

Beware of orbital complications associated with endoscopic sinus surgery.

Published: September 5, 2012

A jury has decided that an ENT surgeon and outpatient surgical facility must pay $2.5 million in damages for the slicing of a patient's left extraocular muscle during endoscopic sinus surgery.

Richard Dias, suffered a detached rectus muscle of the left eye during bilateral endoscopic sinus surgery performed by David Yen, MD, of Bethlehem (Pa.) Ears, Nose and Throat Associates, according to trial court documents. Mr. Dias's lawyer blamed negligent surgery and post-operative monitoring for the injury and resulting permanent double vision and need for corrective surgery.

Dr. Yen and the practice denied liability and asserted that Mr. Dias was aware of the risks of the procedure, but the jury awarded $1.5 million to Mr. Dias for pain and suffering, $.5 million for loss of service and another $.5 million to his wife for loss of consortium. The case and outcome are reminders that post-operative assessment is just as critical and pre- and peri-operative patient safety efforts.

Orbital complications associated with endoscopic sinus surgery are well documented. The American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery's protocol for post-operative care of endoscopic sinus procedure patients includes 3 steps to keep in mind:

  • Monitor for blurry vision, double vision, eye swelling, etc.; if present, notify surgeon.
  • Monitor for mental status changes; if present, notify surgeon.
  • Monitor for vision changes.

You can download the complete Clinical Indicators: Endoscopic Sinus Surgery, Adult as a Word document or PDF.

Lawyers for Mr. Dias and the defendants did not respond to requests for comment.

Stephanie Wasek

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