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4-Year-Old may Face Permanent Vision Problems after Surgeon Operates on Wrong Eye

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April 22, 2011

A wrong site surgery at an Oregon hospital has parents of a small boy waiting to see if their son will have vision problems as a result.

Gaul and Dale Matlock, of Vancouver, WA, took their four-year-old son Jesse to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, OR for an operation on his right eye, according to ABC News. The surgeon, Dr. Shawn Goodman of Lake Oswego, was to perform a procedure to correct Jesse’s wandering right eye by deliberately weakening a muscle causing the condition.

Jesse’s parents waited for their son to enter the recovery room after the expected duration of the surgery, a nurse came and told them they were “operating on both eyes” and then hurried away.

The Matlocks did not understand when Dr. Goodman later told them what happened. She explained she had lost her sense of direction because a nurse covered the pre-surgery mark Goodman made on the eye needing the procedure. Dr. Goodman had weakened the muscle in the wrong eye, realized her mistake after completing the procedure, then performed the procedure on the correct eye.

Dale Matlock told KVAL.com that something went wrong with their checklist because they had circled Jesse’s right eye before the surgery.

The Matlocks will have to wait five weeks before finding if Dr. Goodman’s mistake will have lasting consequences. Jesse’s mom told ABC News that the right eye that needed correction did not seem fixed and the left eye that Dr. Goodman operated on unnecessarily has started to wander.

The Associated Press reports that Dr. Goodman was not an employee of the hospital, but that the hospital would investigate the error to prevent such accidents from occurring in the company’s hospitals in the future.