February 01, 2004

Laser Eye Surgery Complaints Double

Negligence claims involving laser eye surgery have more than doubled in the last six years, according to the UK's largest insurer for doctors.

The Medical Defence Union members said that while some of the claims were over faulty surgery, many more centred on patients' "unrealistic expectations" about what could be achieved.

In February the Consumers' Association warned that people who undergo laser eye surgery are "gambling with their sight".

It warned that clinics made overblown claims and did not highlight possible side effects.

And earlier this month, the medical journal Opthamology said the failure rate for eye surgery was one in 10, not the one in 1,000 figure widely advertised.

The new figures released by the MDU show the number of negligence claims involving laser eye surgery have increased by 166% over the last six years.

They now account for a third of all opthamology claims on the MDU's books.

Dr Matthew Robson, clinical risk manager at the MDU, said: "Laser eye surgery has massively increased in popularity since its introduction in the early-90s, and it is often thought of as a low risk, straightforward procedure.

"But our experience shows that although ophthalmology as a whole has traditionally been a low risk speciality, negligence claims in this particular area are increasing rapidly.

"While some of the claims are as a result of faulty surgical technique, an underlying feature in many more cases is patients' unrealistic expectations about what can or cannot be achieved by surgery."

He said it was important for the doctor performing the surgery to counsel possible patients about the risks of the procedure, the possibility of an imperfect result and other complications.

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Posted by Admin at February 1, 2004 04:47 PM