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CT vet wins nearly $1M for botched eye surgery

Hartford Courant, June 28, 2011
A 60-year-old Army veteran won a $925,000 settlement with the Department of Veterans Affairs after he was blinded in one eye during a routine outpatient cataract operation, his attorney said Monday. Jose Goncalves of Hartford was blinded in his right eye when a third-year resident at the Veterans Affairs medical center in West Haven incorrectly administered an anesthetic during the procedure in 2007, attorney Christopher Bernard said. The resident injected too much anesthetic, causing Goncalves' eyeball to explode, Bernard explained. "Jose suffered excruciating pain after that botched surgery and continued to have severe pain for months afterward," Bernard said. "The damage to the eye is obvious because his iris is missing and his eyelid droops. If anything should ever happen to the undamaged left eye, he could face total blindness." The U.S. attorney's office, which represented the VA, declined to comment. The resident, Dr. Yue Michelle Wang, also declined to comment. She wasn't sued because doctors who work for the federal government have immunity, Bernard said. Wang incorrectly placed a needle with a local anesthetic directly into Goncalves' eye instead of behind his eye, Bernard said.