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South Carolina ophthalmologist accused of operating on wrong eye

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The estate of James Sams, filed a lawsuit against Lowrey King, MD, Roper St Francis Healthcare, The Retina Eye Center of Charleston, and Carolina Eye Care Physicians in a South Carolina court.

(Image Credit: AdobeStock/Victor Moussa)

(Image Credit: AdobeStock/Victor Moussa)

The estate of a South Carolina man has filed a lawsuit against ophthalmologist Lowrey King, MD, a hospital, and several businesses alleging negligence and recklessness after King reportedly operated on wrong eye of the patient.

According to a report by WCSC TV, the estate of James Sams filed the lawsuit, noting that the man was experiencing vision problems in his left eye in February of 2021.

The estate of Sams, who has since passed away, names King, Roper St Francis Healthcare, The Retina Eye Center of Charleston, and Carolina Eye Care Physicians in the suit.

Sams went to an appointment in February of 2021 at Roper St Francis Eye Care and Retina Eye Center, where he was told he would need surgery on his left eye, according to court documents.

According to the WCSC report, Sams’ surgery was set for March 15, 2021, and hospital staff prepared the man’s left eye for a pars plana vitrectomy, according to court documents.

Court records cited by the report indicate that in the operating room, King allegedly performed “an unnecessary, nonconsensual and inappropriate vitrectomy” on Sams’ right eye while “failing to render any care or treatment” to his left eye.

Moreover, it wasn’t until Sams was in the hospital’s recovery room when the hospital and King realized the procedure had been performed on the incorrect eye, according to the report

According to court records, in the wake of the incident, Sams was left blind and in need of around-the-clock care from his children, WCSC reported. His good eye had been bandaged and covered following the improper surgery and the condition in his left eye was unchanged and untreated.

The lawsuit, according to court records cited by the report, also indicates that after the bandage was removed, vision in his right eye never returned to its pre-operation state.

According to court documents, the operating room at the hospital allegedly has a “handwritten addendum” from King, which is quoted in full by the court documents: “The patient agreed to have surgery on his left eye. The surgeon’s correct site marking was not clearly visible, and this led to the incorrect eye being draped. The incorrect location was identified after the patient was released. While the right eye did have treatable disease amenable to surgery, the right eye was not the one for which consent was given. I met with the daughter/caregiver in person to discuss this. Because of the practical invisibility of the blue mark on the forehead and the failure to complete a strict multi-step time out, I said, the non-consented right eye is what it is.”

The lawsuit, filed on August 25, seeks actual and punitive damages as well as court costs “and any such other and further relief” the court would determine to be proper, the WCSC report concluded.

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