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February 1987

Medical Malpractice Litigation in the Management of Vitreoretinal Diseases

Author Affiliations

Livingston, NJ

Arch Ophthalmol. 1987;105(2):187-190. doi:10.1001/archopht.1987.01060020041024

There are many definitions of medical malpractice, as the law does not attempt to make the definition precise.1 The three criteria that must be met to establish a claim of medical malpractice are negligence, injury, and proximate cause. The concept of proximate cause holds that the patient's injury must be the result of the physician's negligence. Such is the case when an ophthalmologist fails to diagnose an early retinal detachment until the macula has been detached several weeks and there is little chance to restore occupationally useful vision. Negligence and injury that are not cause-and-effect related do not constitute medical malpractice. An example is a surgeon's failure to reduce intraocular pressure before cataract surgery, with the patient suffering no vitreous loss but postoperative endophthalmitis. A situation also may arise in which the physician is negligent but no damage is caused by the negligence. Such is the case when the

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