Weird Medicine

Eyes Wide Shut: Untrained Part-Time Receptionist Accidentally Glues 3-Year-Old's Eyes Closed During Medical Procedure

brown eye
A 3-year-old in Canada was admitted to the hospital after his eye was accidentally glued shut. anthony kelly CC BY 2.0

An understaffed clinic in Quebec is in hot water after a staff member allowed an untrained, part-time receptionist to perform a medical procedure that resulted in a 3-year-old's eye being glued shut. 

On July 1, Julia Vavatsikos took her 3-year-old son, Vincenzo, to Clinique Médicale Privée Jean-Pierre Savaria et Associes to check out a minor cat scratch on the boy’s eyelid. Vavatsikos was told Vincenzo would need medical glue to seal the cut. Since it was Canada Day, however, there was only one doctor on duty in the clinic, so an office assistant, a part-time employee with no medical training, was tasked with gluing the child’s eye.

The clinic’s only on-duty doctor, Jean Therrien, was in charge of the "crucial medical act of holding the boy in place," Dr. Marie-Andree LeBlanc, one of the clinic’s owners, told CBC. Unfortunately, the receptionist missed the laceration and proceeded to glue the child’s eye shut.

“My son was yelling, 'Mommy, mommy.' He couldn't open his eye and also the doctor looked like he was panicking,” Vavatsikos told CBC. “He was trying to open my son's eye with water and his fingers. He was even swearing at that point. I've never met any doctors that swear. At that point, I knew something was really wrong.”

Eventually, Therrien told Vavatsikos that she needed to take Vincenzo to the hospital, where an ophthalmologist was able to open the child’s eye. However, according to Vavatsikos, an attending nurse questioned how the incident was allowed to occur, since normally doctors don’t use glue on sensitive areas such as the eye. Even in the rare cases where glue is used to seal eye lacerations, the procedure must only be done by a doctor or a specialist.

Dr. Saideh Khadir, a spokesperson for the Quebec arm of the Canadian Doctors for Medicare, explained to CBC that it was “unacceptable” that a receptionist was asked to perform the medical procedure, but cited cost cuts as a potential reason for the clinic’s short staff.

Newser reported that the clinic did refund Vavatsikos her $150 payment, but the mother also wants a guarantee such a mistake will not be repeated.

"I don't want any other kid, adult, baby to go through that — to go through what my son went through. He was absolutely traumatized," Vavatsikos told CBC. "I think the doctor needs to know what he did wasn't right. He might as well have asked me to put glue on my son's eye."

Although your eye may be the last place you’d want to put glue anywhere near, individuals accidentally gluing their eyes shut is unfortunately becoming more common due to the increasing popularity of false eyelashes. Thankfully, the problem is usually easily remedied, although it may cost you both your eye lashes and your pride.

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