Jury awards cataract patient $1.5M in malpractice suit

Aug. 20, 2014 @ 12:00 PM

A jury found a Durham ophthalmologist and hospital negligent in using the wrong drug during cataract surgery that severely damaged a patient's eye. He was awarded $1.5 million.

The medical malpractice suit was brought by Jerry M. Medlin of Durham against Dr. Timothy N. Young, North Carolina Specialty Hospital and North Carolina Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat.
Medlin's attorney, Bill Faison, said his client had cataract surgery on his left eye in 2008 at N.C. Specialty Hospital.
According to testimony, Young ordered a dye called VisionBlue to stain the cataract so it could be safely removed. But a nurse brought the wrong drug -- methylene blue -- which is toxic to the eye. She handed it to a surgical technician, who gave it to Young.
The nurse testified she announced what the drug was as she handed it to a surgical technician in the operating room, but Young said he never heard that. The technician testified she also announced that the drug was methylene blue as she gave it to Young.
Young applied the drug to Medlin's eye.
"This stuff is so toxic to the eye that it did damage all over his eye," Faison said Tuesday after the verdict.
Another procedure was done at the hospital to correct the injury, and that failed. A full corneal transplant was later performed, but Medlin's body rejected it.
Medlin is now blind in his left eye and has developed glaucoma as a result of the surgeries, Faison said. He has 20/20 vision in his right eye.
North Carolina Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat was named in the suit because Young, a 1996 graduate of Duke Medical School, practiced there at the time. Young has moved his practice to Texas.
According to Faison, the case has been going on in different courts since Jan. 5, 2011. That means that after adding costs and interest of 8 percent per year, the final judgment will be close to $2 million.
The primary attorney for the defendants was Gregory M. Brown of Raleigh. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.