The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam
(NOTE: This Court wrote no full opinion in this case. Rather, the Court's affirmance of the judgment of the Appellate Division is based substantially on the reasons expressed in the Per Curiam opinion below.)
Dr. Antonio Sgro, a sixty-six-year-old, insulin-dependent diabetic, consulted Dr. Richard Ross, an ophthalmologist, about blurred vision in his right eye. Dr. Sgro suffered from cataracts in that eye. After consultation with Dr. Ross, Dr. Sgro opted to have a lens implant to correct the problem.
The lens implant surgery was initially successful. However, several days after surgery, Dr. Sgro began to experience swelling, wetness, and blurred vision in the eye. It was determined that a portion of Dr. Sgro's iris had prolapsed; the iris has pushed out through the incision made at the time of the cataract operation. Given the prolapse, the absence of any necrotic (unhealthy) tissue, the determination that the prolapse had occurred within twenty-four hours, and the absence of conjunctiva on the iris, Dr. Ross concluded that the prolapsed iris should be reposited back into the eye rather than excised. Excising the prolapsed section of the iris would have caused Dr. Sgro to suffer from light insensitivity, double vision and night glare.
Dr. Ross told Dr. Sgro that he was going to repair the prolapse but, as Dr. Sgro testified, Dr. Ross did not tell him how he was going to fix it. Both parties testified that Dr. Ross did not inform Dr. Sgro as to any alternative procedure for repairing the prolapse. In addition, Dr. Sgro testified that Dr. Ross did not tell him of any possible risks that might be involved. Dr. Ross testified that he did not inform Dr. Sgro about excision of the iris because it was not an option in his case.
Dr. Sgro experienced further problems with his right eye, resulting in his referral to Dr. Gary Brown of Wills Eye Hospital. After examination, Dr. Brown concluded that Dr. Sgro had fulminant endophthalmitis. Dr. Brown concluded that the bacteria causing the endophthalmitis was introduced into the eye at the time the iris prolapse was repaired. Dr. Sgro suffered permanent injury to the right eye.
Dr. Sgro brought suit against Dr. Ross, contending, among other things, that his consent to the repositing of the iris was not informed because Dr. Ross failed to inform him of the excision alternative. A jury found that the failure to inform Dr. Sgro of the excision alternative did not deprive him of informed consent.
Dr. Sgro appealed to the Appellate Division, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence on which the jury reached its verdict, and the adequacy of the trial court's jury instructions and interrogatories. The Appellate Division rejected those arguments in an unpublished opinion.
The Supreme Court granted Dr. Sgro's petition for certification.
HELD: Judgment of the Appellate Division is affirmed substantially for the reasons expressed in the Per Curiam opinion below. A sufficient factual basis existed to support the jury's verdict and there was no error in the trial court's instructions or interrogatories.
1. Several expert witnesses presented by the defense testified regarding the negative consequences of excision, and indicated that in the contest of this case, excision was not a medically reasonable alternative. The jury could reasonably have relied on that determination in finding that the excision alternative would not have been material information for a reasonably prudent patient in Dr. Sgro's position. (Pp. 2-3)
CHIEF JUSTICE PORITZ and JUSTICES STEIN, COLEMAN, LONG, VERNIERO, LAVECCHIA and ZAZZALI join in this PER CURIAM opinion.
On certification to the Superior Court, ...