PINELLAS COUNTY, FL. – A lawsuit has been filed against St. Luke’s Cataract and Laser Institute, St. Luke’s Surgical Center and one of its eye surgeons, Dr. Brandon Rodriguez.
The suit was filed in Pinellas County on October 28 by a Canadian couple who resides part-time in Belleair.
Kathleen Campbell, 80, underwent a right-eye cornea transplant at St. Luke’s in mid-January 2019. In mid-February, a patient who received the mate cornea of Campbell’s was reported to the Eye Bank Association for America as suffering from Candida albicans, a fungal infection that threatens some cornea transplant patients with complete eye loss.
Such became the case with Campbell.
The lawsuit claims that “despite learning that the mate cornea to the one used for Kathleen Campbell’s cornea transplant developed a fungal infection, no effort was made by St. Luke’s Cataract & Laser Institute, P.A., St. Luke’s Surgical Center, Inc. or Dr. Rodriguez to bring Kathleen Campbell into the practice for re-evaluation and close monitoring as was required given the very high probability that Kathleen Campbell too, would develop a fungal infection in her transplanted cornea.”
The suit indicates that allegedly four days passed before the Eye Bank Association received any return call from St. Luke’s regarding Campbell’s 50 percent risk of infection. Two ophthalmic technicians spoke to the Eye Bank Association, the last one reporting to the bank that Campbell was showing no signs of infection. But the lawsuit indicates that Campbell was allegedly never told about the patient whose mate cornea was infected with Candida albicans.
By March 9, Campbell began to experience significant pain and tearing in her eye which received the cornea transplant. She visited an optometrist in lieu of Dr. Rodriguez who was unavailable and received prescriptions after indicating added maladies, including losing most of her right-eye vision except some peripheral sight, seeing black dots all over, and feeling as if she had a bunch of sand in her eye.
Dr. Rodriguez saw her thereafter and sent her to the USF Health Department of Opthalmology for definitive workup and treatment. Thereafter she spent three days at Tampa General Hospital undergoing surgery to attempt to save the eye from “fungal endophthalmitis.”
Two more surgeries followed until mid-December 2019. But there was no hope to save her eye. Campbell underwent her last surgery in January 2020 with her right eye removed and replaced with a prosthetic eye.
The suit contends that Campbell should have been informed immediately of the risk of infection and instructed to lower her threshold for calling St. Luke’s and being more keenly observant of any eye issues. It also complains she should have been seen more frequently, and that Dr. Rodriguez was not timely informed by two of St. Luke’s ophthalmic technicians that a patient with Campbell’s mate cornea was suffering from a fungal infection. Other contentions are described as well.
The attorney for Campbell and her partner is Jack P. Hill of West Palm Beach, Florida. He is affiliated with Search Denney, Scarola Barnhart, and Shipley, P.A. He could not be reached for comment.
The plaintiff could also not be reached. An inquiry into the case was placed with St. Luke’s Cataract and Laser Institute, but a return call has not yet been received.
On St. Luke’s website, it states, “Our surgical center has a significantly lower incidence of eye infection and other surgical complications than the national average.”
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