A judge in London has found that the lack of informed consent is sufficient grounds to successfully make an eye surgery injury claim for compensation.
Stephanie Holloway (28) from Gosport in Hampshire made an eye surgery injury claim for compensation after undergoing treatment at the Southampton branch of Optical Express in September 2008.
Having enquired about eye surgery to improve her short-sightedness and increase her chances of joining the police force, Stephanie paid £2,790 for an operation conducted by Dr Joanna McGraw which left her suffering from photophobia.
Stephanie now has to wear sunglasses whenever she is in a brightly lit environment and has suffered from depression since her ordeal. Despite consultations with eye experts in Harley Street – and one further painful operation – her condition has failed to improve.
Stephanie alleged in her eye surgery injury claim that she had not been told that photophobia was a possible consequence of undergoing the procedure – an allegation denied by Optical Express and Dr McGraw, who claimed that Stephanie was exaggerating her condition.
The case went to the Central London County Court where it was heard before Judge Edward Bailey. During the hearing Dr McGraw insisted that she had advised Stephanie that the procedure was very difficult and could have a very bad result.
However, Judge Bailey was told that Stephanie´s initial consultation had lasted no longer than three to four minutes, and just seven minutes before undergoing surgery she had been presented with a consent form to sign.
The judge said that giving a patient a consent form to sign seven minutes before surgery “is not how things should be done” and ruled that Stephanie could not have been given sufficient information about the risks of surgery within that time in order for her to give informed consent.
Judge Bailey considered that the lack of information Stephanie received represented a material breach in the duty of care owed by Optical Express and went against the Royal College of Ophthalmologist´s guidelines that a patient should be given a consent form at least twenty-four hours before surgery.
Stephanie was awarded £569,287 in settlement of her eye surgery injury claim for compensation which included a substantial amount in relation to her loss of earnings – Stephanie having to give up her successful book dealing business due to the failure of her eyesight.