A Brooklyn woman who went blind after doctors misdiagnosed her glaucoma, has won a $15 million dollar lawsuit against Woodhull Medical Center.
Amanda Velasquez was seven months pregnant and just 20 years old when she walked into Woodhull in October 2011 complaining to her obstetrician, Dr. Reginald Ruiz, of blurred vision. She visited the hospital six times after that — each time noting her cloudy vision and pressure around her eyes, according to her lawsuit in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Just two months later, on Dec. 7, 2011, she couldn’t see her newborn son when a doctor placed him on her chest, Velasquez, 27, testified.
It wasn’t until she visited the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary several weeks post-partum that she was diagnosed with glaucoma. By the time she had surgery one month later, she says it was too late — and she was 90% blind.
On Thursday, after a three-week trial and just two hours of deliberations, six jurors awarded her $15 million for medical malpractice.
“There’s no amount of money that can begin to make up for what was taken from me. I can’t take my kids to the park, or help them with their homework or watch a sunset, but I am grateful that the jury saw through the hospital’s lies and tried to give me justice,” Velasquez, a married mother of two, said.
Her attorney, Ralph DeSimone, said Woodhull staff misdiagnosed her vision problems as related to her pregnancy.
“They were fixated on her pregnancy,” DeSimone said. “They never looked into her eye.”
Glaucoma must be quickly treated once detected, he added.
“It’s a progressive disease, and every day matters,” DeSimone explained.
At trial, the hospital argued it did not deviate from accepted medical care.
A spokesman for NYC Health and Hospitals, which oversees Woodhull, said it would appeal the verdict. The jury award, the spokesman added, was excessive.
“NYC Health and Hospitals places the quality of our care and patient safety as our highest priorities,” the spokesman said.