" Unnecessarily painful operation "

About: Essex County Hospital / Ophthalmology

(as the patient),

First I would like to thank the staff at the Eye Clinic for the work they are doing, and for the follow-up call I received today after my operation yesterday. As a result of this procedure I have some issues that I feel I should bring to your attention, and to do so quickly before the sequence of events becomes blurred over time.

At the time of my eye measurement a few weeks ago I was told - quote -“the worst bit is when you have the injection.”

I therefore was both expecting, and was receptive to, an injection that might be unpleasant but would be quick. I had no injection.

On arriving at the ante-room to the theatre I was given eye drops by the assistant, having previously been given more drops in reception. I was then placed in a reclining position. When the surgeon came in he also administered drops. He then scraped the eyeball causing me considerable pain and distress. This was followed by more drops after which the eye became numb and immobile.

I had expected an injection that would anaesthetise the eye – and in retrospect I would certainly have preferred one instead of what I felt was an exceedingly unpleasant scraping that preceded the actual numbing.

I was then wheeled into the theatre and the procedure began. The first part went as I would have hoped: no discomfort and the machine noise was explained and caused no problem.

At a point some two thirds through the operation the surgeon stated that “there was a kink” in the lens and sent for another. A short delay was followed by much paper rustling and this was followed by more delay and by more rustling of paper. When the surgeon continued I began to experience a recurrence of discomfort followed quickly by pain.

More liquid was applied to the eye and the operation continued with gradual diminution of pain but some discomfort and a considerable amount of distress; I became shaken and very unhappy as a result.

This contrasts so much with what I expected from my experience having heard about the very good experience of others. It certainly took much longer than I had been led to believe.

On the very short journey from the theatre back to reception I remarked to the assistant on the kink in the lens and was told that in fact that there were four lenses and that they were “stuck together”.

My concerns are twofold: first that the pre-op anaesthetic was demonstrably inadequate. In my opinion if the total immobility of the eye that followed the drops had been induced prior to the surgeon’s action in scraping the eye, much pain and distress could have been avoided.

Secondly, whilst I appreciate that a kinked lens could not in normal circumstances have been foreseen, I am strongly of the opinion that a great deal could have been done to prevent the extreme distress felt as the anaesthetic wore off. I felt that the surgeon did not address this by promising it would soon be finished. In the absence of pain I would not have minded how long it went on.

I have to say that there is no way that I will consent to a further operation under an anaesthetic regime such as I have experienced and I am setting in motion arrangements to have any further procedures at another hospital.

I should be grateful for a considered, rather than a rapid, response in this unfortunate matter.

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