Doctor and hospital not liable for damage from eye buckle retrospectively found to be unsuitable
19 June 2020
Today the Supreme Court set aside a decision of the Arnhem-Leeuwarden Court of Appeal in which a hospital was held liable for complications resulting from a buckle (a pad on the eye which presses the retina after surgery).
The patient had an operation in 1992 for a retinal detachment. A Miragel buckle was placed onto the eye. Later, complications arose. In 2006, the buckle was partially removed. The patient argued that the hospital was liable for damage caused by the buckle.

The Court of Appeal held the hospital liable. The Miragel buckle turned out to be unsuitable because it can cause complications. Because of the composition and characteristics of this type of buckle, the buckle can swell. It can also split into fragments when removed. According to the Court of Appeal, the unsuitability of the buckle is not changed by the fact that at the time of the surgery the use of the Miragel buckle was 'state of the art' and the hospital doctors were unaware of the potential complications. The use of the buckle constituted a failure in the performance of the medical treatment agreement. This failure must be attributed to the hospital, according to the Court of Appeal.

The hospital appealed the Court of Appeal's decision to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that the Court of Appeal wrongly assumed that it does not make a difference whether the buckle was ‘state of the art’ at the time of the surgery. It found that if, during a medical treatment, a device is implanted in the patient's body which is 'state of the art' at the time of the treatment, using that device does not become a failure because new medical insights later show that the device was unsuitable for this treatment.

Houthoff represented the hospital. Houthoff's team consisted of Huib Lebbing, Bart van der Wiel and Naomi Dempsey.

The Supreme Court referred the case to another court of appeal. That court of appeal will have to review the case again.

Today the Supreme Court also ruled in another case about the liability of a doctor and a hospital for damage suffered as a result of a medical implant (PIP implant).

source: de Rechtspraak
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