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Mayo Clin Proc. 2010 June; 85(6): e40.
PMCID: PMC2878268

Waking Up Blind: Lawsuits Over Eye Surgery

Reviewed by George B. Bartley, MD

by  Tom Harbin,  240 pp,  $24.95,  212 3rd Avenue North, Suite 570, Minneapolis, MN 55401,  Langdon Street Press (telephone: 952-345-4488),  2009, ISBN  978-1-934938-87-4.

Grading Key [large star][large star][large star][large star][large star] = outstanding; [large star][large star][large star][large star] = excellent; [large star][large star][large star] = good; [large star][large star] = fair; [large star] = poor

Type and Scope of Book:

A single-authored commentary.


In the mid-1980s, the chairman of a prestigious academic ophthalmology department operated on the incorrect eye of a patient, setting into motion an investigation of charges of substandard care, alteration of medical records, and billing improprieties. The author recounts, through legal documents and personal interviews, the series of events that ultimately led to the chairman's resignation, the departure of several key department members, and several significant financial settlements. This disturbing story no doubt has parallels in other specialties and other institutions, with timeless lessons for multiple audiences.


The narrative is well-researched and well-written; it reads like a novel.


The legal analysis occasionally is overly detailed.

Recommended Readership:

Both medical and lay readers.

Overall Grading:

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Articles from Mayo Clinic Proceedings are provided here courtesy of The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research