From the Desk of Bill Ruffier: A Retinoblastoma Case Study

Bill Ruffier of Dellecker, Wilson, King, McKenna, Ruffier, & Sos has dedicated his career to fighting for the rights of children and families who have been devastated by pediatric retinoblastoma malpractice. Today, we’ll discuss a case that sadly represents many of the scenarios that occur in this realm: a pediatrician who neglected his duties, and consequently failed to diagnose the condition when all the warning signs were present.

Please note that for the privacy of the client and defendant, personal details of the story have been changed.

A Seemingly Normal Life

Nadia and Omar Koury lived life just like any other family. After the birth of their first child Isaac, they sought out Dr. Griffin, a trusted and recommended pediatrician in Philadelphia. The Kourys took Isaac to all of his scheduled checkups. According to the pediatrician, he was in perfect health.Pediatrician Visit

However, when Isaac was two years and two months old, his parents noticed something that their pediatrician never did.

Isaac’s left eye seemed to be stationary, failing to move or function the way his right eye did. The Kourys took Isaac to Dr. Griffin, who immediately referred them to a pediatric ophthalmologist who specializes in medical and surgical eye issues in children.

That same day, they visited the ophthalmologist, who immediately diagnosed Isaac with pediatric retinoblastoma.

A Devastating Diagnosis

As pediatric retinoblastoma is a very aggressive form of cancer, the tumor took up nearly 75% of Isaac’s left eye. His retina was completely detached, leaving him blind in the affected eye. The tumor had spread to the sclera, or the white part of the eye. The family discussed and debated treatment options with their specialist.

However, the diagnosis came too late: Isaac lost his eye to the cancer.

The Legal Process Begins

Fast forward nearly 10 years, and the Koury family finally found a lawyer who was equipped to take the case. Bill Ruffier and the team at Dellecker, Wilson, King, McKenna, Ruffier, & Sos immediately went to work.

Early Detection Techniques LeukocoriaThe team discovered photographs of Isaac when he was just 10 months old, showing one of the most telltale signs of pediatric retinoblastoma: leukocoria. In photos taken with a flash, Isaac’s left eye was white, while the other eye was normal.

This revealed that Isaac’s pediatric retinoblastoma was diagnosable by his pediatrician for at least 16 months before he was actually diagnosed.

Failing to Perform the Job

During the deposition, Ruffier asked about the red reflex exams that Dr. Griffin was required to perform during Isaac’s Well Child visits, under requirements by the American Academy of Pediatricians. The requirements stated that the lights in the exam room must be dimmed for the ophthalmoscope to properly detect issues.

When asked why Dr. Griffin failed to dim the lights, he responded with the untrue statement that young children have wide irises, making it unnecessary to dim the lights.

A Lifetime of Challenges

Fortunately, DWKMR&S was able to win the case for the Koury family, successfully proving that Dr. Griffin’s failed to follow his medical obligations, which put Isaac in serious danger and caused him to lose his eye.

Unfortunately, Isaac faces a lifetime of challenges. As a teenager now, he experiences severe shame and embarrassment from his glass eye. When he’s older, he’ll have difficulty performing everyday tasks like driving. He’ll be restricted from a number of careers due to his lack of depth perception.

A Call to Action for Families

This case is not isolated. We urge families to be vigilant when it comes to identifying abnormalities like leukocoria, and to never hesitate to seek a second opinion when having doubts. If you or someone you know believes that they may be victim of pediatric retinoblastoma malpractice, call us today for legal help.