Issue: January 2017
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Under Pressure: Liability Risks in Diagnosing and Treating Glaucoma

Introduction

Glaucoma Liability Issues

Even though more than three million Americans have glaucoma, only about half of those suffering from glaucoma are aware of it. The most common type of glaucoma has virtually no symptoms to warn of the disease, which can cause blindness if left untreated. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness around the world. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month.

 

Glaucoma accounts for about 10 million visits to doctors each year. Although the disease cannot be cured, and vision lost as a result of glaucoma cannot be regained, patients may be able to prevent further loss of vision with medication and/or surgery.

 

Experts project that the incidence of glaucoma will increase by more than 50% by the year 2030. Economic costs to the U.S. government alone related to glaucoma may be more than $1.5 billion annually.

 

Injuries related to glaucoma can lead to litigation. Claims may include allegations of medical malpractice or negligence, disability discrimination, product liability, and others. Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with injuries related to glaucoma.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to establish medical malpractice in the diagnosis or treatment of glaucoma? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?

Physicians:

How can liability for medical malpractice be avoided for an injury related to the diagnosis or treatment of glaucoma? And, what is a potential strategy for the physician to employ?

Insurers:

Can a payout under a medical malpractice liability policy be avoided by proof that the health provider was not negligent or there was no coverage for the injury related to the diagnosis or treatment of glaucoma? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ? 

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for an employee’s glaucoma? And, what is a potential strategy for the employer to use? 


Practice the Technique: Checklists

Attorneys:

Check this list of facts and circumstances tending to show a provider’s liability for malpractice or negligence for an injury related to glaucoma.

Physicians:

Presented is a checklist of items a physician must consider when defending against claims of malpractice or negligence involving an injury related to glaucoma.

Insurers:

The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of malpractice or negligence for an injury involving glaucoma.  

Employers:

Use this checklist to determine if the employee’s glaucoma is “work related” and occurred “in the course of the employment.” 

Expert Analysis

What Surgical Interventions Are Available for Those Suffering from Glaucoma? 

Leon W. Herndon Jr., MD

How Do the Glaucoma Disease Mechanisms Progress to Loss of Sight?

Shan C. Lin, MD

Litigation

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Arbitration or mediation may be required by contract or statute, may be mandated by the court or, in some circumstances, may be the appropriate method for a negotiated resolution.


Reasons To Reach Settlement

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to reach settlement, and not take the action to trial.


Reasons To Go To Trial

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to take the action to trial.


Jury Awards and Settlements

How much have juries awarded and what settlements have been reached recently in cases involving glaucoma?



Medical Examples

Glaucoma

This section provides detailed medical information on glaucoma, what it is, the types of glaucoma, the damage to the eye and the patient’s vision, risk factors, prevention, causes, symptoms, diagnosis and testing, treatment, and surgical complications and considerations. This section also discusses a glaucoma patient’s prognosis and ability to work.



Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

Provided is a listing of law and medical resources for further information on glaucoma.  


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Under Pressure: Liability Risks in Diagnosing and Treating Glaucoma

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Leon W. Herndon Jr., MD
   Shan C. Lin, MD

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy
   Attorneys
   Physicians and Health Providers
   Insurers
   Employers and Risk Managers

Practice the Technique: Checklists
   Attorney Checklist
   Physician Checklist
   Insurer Checklist
   Employer Checklist

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Reasons To Reach Settlement

Reasons To Go To Trial

Jury Awards and Settlements

Glaucoma

Law and Medicine Resources