Malpractice sought after surgeon operates on wrong eye

Malpractice sought after surgeon operates on wrong eye »Play Video
Jesse Matlock. Back in 2011, a surgeon operated on the wrong eye and now his family wants the surgeon and hospital to take responsibility for what happened. KATU photo.

VANCOUVER, Wash. - When a surgeon operated on the wrong eye on a 4-year-old boy, his parents were shocked that something like that could happen. Now, they are actively pursuing a medical malpractice case against the doctor who performed the surgery, and the hospital where it was done.

"This isn't about the money to me," the boy's father, Dale Matlock, said. "This is about all the people out there that have been through what we've been through the last two years. All the mishap surgeries that go on out there and all they do is try to cover it up. I'm done with it. If I have to get a different attorney, I will. I want to take this to court so a judge can decide what is right."

When Jesse Matlock of Vancouver went in for surgery in 2011, an eye surgeon was supposed to operate on his right eye to stop it from wandering. But the boy's parents say instead, the surgeon operated on their son's left eye before realizing the mistake and repeating the same operation on his right eye.

"My husband and I were in awe," Tasha Gaul, the boy's mother, told KATU at the time. "We were like 'can you repeat that again? She said 'frankly, I lost sense of direction and didn't realize I had operated on the wrong eye until I was done operating on the eye.' "

Matlock said doctors from Legacy told the family that Jesse's left eye is getting better and shows no signs of long-term damage but the family wants the doctor and hospital to admit fault. The family's lawyer does not want to go forward with the case, which is why they are considering hiring another attorney.

The surgery was done by Dr. Shawn Goodman at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland. She was not an employee of Legacy, but was using their operating facilities.

Matlock said the hospital thus far has offered only to settle the case outside of court for up to $50,000, without publicly acknowledging the mistake. The hospital would not comment on the case because it is an open one.