Eye injuries associated with anesthesia. A closed claims analysis

Anesthesiology. 1992 Feb;76(2):204-8. doi: 10.1097/00000542-199202000-00008.


Claims against anesthesiologists for eye injuries were analyzed as part of the ASA Closed Claims Project. Eye injury occurred in 3% of all claims in the database (71 of 2,046). The payment frequency for eye injury claims was higher than that for non-eye injury claims (70% vs. 56%; P less than or equal to 0.05). The median cost of eye injury claims was less than that for other claims ($24,000 vs. $95,000; P less than or equal to 0.01). Two distinct subsets were identified. The first was characterized by corneal abrasion during general anesthesia (25 of 71 claims; 35%). Claims for corneal abrasion were characterized by low incidence of permanent injury (16%) and low median payment ($3,000). Reviewers were able to identify a mechanism of injury in only 20% of claims for corneal abrasion. The second subset of eye injury was characterized by patient movement during ophthalmologic surgery (21 of 71; 30%). Blindness was the outcome in all cases. Sixteen of the claims involving movement occurred during general anesthesia, and 5 occurred during monitored anesthesia care. The median payment for claim involving movement was 10 times greater than for non-movement claims ($90,000 vs. $9,000; P less than or equal to 0.01). Anesthesiologist reviewers deemed the care rendered in the general anesthesia "movement" claims as meeting standards in only 19% of claims. From the perspective of patient safety, as well as risk management, these data suggest two specific needs: research directed at better understanding of the etiology of corneal abrasion and clinical strategies designed to assure patient immobility during ophthalmic surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anesthesia, General / adverse effects*
  • Anesthesiology / economics
  • Anesthesiology / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Eye Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Eye Injuries / etiology
  • Humans
  • Insurance Claim Review
  • Insurance, Liability / statistics & numerical data*
  • Malpractice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology