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Assessment of eye injury

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Kevin Allan today released a report finding an ophthalmologist in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code) for failures in the care provided to a man with an eye injury.

The man attended the emergency department (ED) at a hospital after being hit in the eye by a firework. He was examined by an ED doctor, who telephoned the on call ophthalmologist to consult about diagnosis and treatment of the injury. The ED doctor told the ophthalmologist that the man’s injury had been caused by a firework, and advised him of some symptoms.

The ophthalmologist diagnosed the eye injury as a superficial thermal burn to the eye and advised a treatment plan. It was later found that the man had a serious eye injury.

Mr Allan considered that the ED doctor had given the ophthalmologist sufficient information to alert him to the possibility that the man’s eye injury might be severe, and that the ophthalmologist needed to attend the ED to assess the man himself. The ophthalmologist’s failure to attend meant that the man’s injury was not assessed appropriately in a timely manner. Accordingly, Mr Allan considered that the ophthalmologist failed to provide care to the man with reasonable care and skill in breach of the Code.

Mr Allan recommended that the ophthalmologist apologise to the man, confirm the implementation of his new practice of managing telephone consultations and review the effectiveness of that practice, and reflect on his failure to seek sufficient information from the ED doctor.

Mr Allan also made a number of recommendations to the DHB regarding specialist review and communication.

The full report for case 18HDC00253 is available on the HDC website.


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