Each year in the UK millions of surgical procedures, including laser eye surgery, are carried out, unfortunately, some patients are being unwittingly let down by their surgeon even before the treatment begins.
In March 2015, a landmark decision in the United Kingdom Supreme Court (Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board) made it clear that medical professionals must ensure their patients are clearly made aware of the risks of any treatments they offer and of the availability of any suitable alternatives.
What this means in layman's terms is that it is a legal responsibility of a surgeon to properly inform the patient of the risks and alternative treatment so they can decide to go ahead or not. Furthermore, if the patient is adversely affected by the surgery and the consent was flawed, the patient may be entitled to make a claim against the surgeon for a lack of informed consent.
Worryingly, the complications and risks of treatments being offered by some private clinics, such as laser eye surgery, lens exchange, and cataract surgery frequently seem to be downplayed, which could enable some patients to undergo surgery that is not as safe as they expect.
Five Conditions that increase the risks associated with LASIK
- Autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis
- A weakened immune system caused by immunosuppressive medications or HIV
- Persistent dry eyes
- Unstable vision due to medications, hormonal changes, pregnancy, breast-feeding or age
- Keratitis, uveitis, herpes simplex affecting the eye area, glaucoma, cataracts, eye injuries or lid disorders
LASIK is not recommended if you
- Have an eye disease called keratoconus, or if you have a family history of it
- Have a fairly good overall vision
- Have severe nearsightedness
- Have very large pupils or thin corneas
- Have age-related eye changes that cause you to have a less-clear vision (presbyopia)
- Participate in contact sports that may be associated with blows to the face
The NHS says that as many as 1 in 10 people having laser eye surgery require further corrective treatment and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists state that 5% of patients who undergo Refractive Lens Exchange are unhappy with the results. Therefore it is important that people are made aware of these failings before consenting to surgery.
It seems attitudes to ensuring patients' rights are been taken lightly by some surgeons where patients are being let down even before surgery.
If you have been harmed by eye surgery and was not told about the risks or alternative treatment beforehand you may be able to claim compensation.