Anesthesiologist blamed for causing blindness in 5 cataract patients at Massachusetts clinic: 9 takeaways

A cataract eye surgery center in Massachusetts is the subject of controversy after five patients receiving cataract surgery in May 2014 went blind from the procedure, the Boston Globe reports

Here is what you need to know.

1. The surgeries were all performed at Cataract and Laser Center West, in West Springfield, Mass. The injuries have "shocked and mystified" cataract surgeons, because even one serious injury is rare.

2. Specialists who examined the patients alleged that anesthesiologist Tzay Chiu, MD, is responsible for the injuries. The specialists believe Dr. Chiu possibly pierced the patient's eyeballs or retinas with his needles while he was performing an eye block.

3. Dr. Chiu had been sent by an agency and was working his first day at the center. He was properly screened by the center, and his application did not raise any "red flags."

4. The center's regular anesthesiologist Mario Addabbo, MD, had allegedly screened Dr. Chiu's first three cases and determined he was competent. Dr. Addabbo is disputing the competency finding through a deposition. Dr. Addabbo claims he was not present when Dr. Chiu began his caseload.

5. All five of the injured patients have hired lawyers, and two have filed lawsuits.

6. As a result of the injuries the surgery center has increased the number of required observations to 12. Ten observations is recommended by experts, according to the report.

7. Dr. Chiu reached an agreement with the board of registration in medicine, which licenses Massachusetts doctors, to not perform eye blocks while the board investigates the injuries. Otherwise he is free to practice.

8. The Globe claims the case has brought eye block anesthetics to the forefront of conversation. Physicians nationally use numbing drops more often than eye blocks.

9. The centers report to the state stated. Dr. Chiu had allegedly done hundreds of eye blocks in the past, but the center said there was a possibility it had not adequately verified his experience.

More news related to anesthesia:
1. MEDNAX acquires Associated Anesthesiologists: 5 key points
2. FDA approves first nasal-administered dental anesthetic: 5 key notes
3. MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital develop sensor for anesthesiologists: 5 takeaways

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