Robert Selkin, MD Connected to LASIK Suicide

FDA Hearing

April 25, 2008

 

MR. KROUNER: Good morning again. I am here on behalf of Amanda Campbell. My name is Todd Krouner. I was recently retained by her. She is a widow now in Brentwood, Tennessee, whose husband, Lawrence Campbell, a police officer with that police force, shot himself with his service revolver last month on March 16, 2008. Ms. Campbell regrets that, given her current circumstances, she is not able to afford the trip here to Maryland today.

In a March 25, 2008, article reported in the OSN supersite, Dr. Richard Lindstrom, who you know as President of ASCRS and OSN Chief Medical Editor, is quoted as asserting that there is no correlation whatsoever between adverse LASIK outcomes and suicide. Presumably, Dr. Lindstrom did not have the benefit of reading police officer Campbell's suicide note.

In my April 15, 2008, written submission to the FDA, I referred to Dr. Lindstrom's assertion, but in my letter I also questioned the integrity of certain Titans in the LASIK industry, and I want to be clear that none of those comments are meant to cast any such aspersion on Dr. Lindstrom. However, I respectfully disagree with his absolute position based on the explicit statements in police officer Campbell's suicide note from just last month. He states: "No one knows what I am feeling, constant pain, blurred vision, stress that I never had before. If only Dr. Robert P. Selkin had done a pre-op and knew I was not a candidate for LASIK surgery. "No one understands truly my burden I carry, dry eyes, cannot light a fire, cannot stand in front of air conditioning, cannot cook without opening a window, cannot spray deodorant. The list goes on and on. "I just cannot burden my family for a poor decision, eye surgery, which Selkin knew was wrong but only wanted money, and I will not live on drugs, Xanax. I never used that drug wrong, a half a milligram at night and sparingly in the afternoon on a bad day. I am not a drug user. Never could I do this, as it has ruined so many lives." He goes on to state, "Do not have LASIK surgery. Tell the media."

On behalf of the Campbell family, that is why I am here on their behalf today. If there were any question about the cause of police officer Campbell's suicide, he states explicitly: "To blame for this, Selkin eye surgery. Eye surgery has taken my life out of me. The pain, distorted vision, chronic dry eye is not bearable" -- emphasis in original. Out of fairness to Dr. Robert P. Selkin, I do not know today if he committed medical malpractice in the tragic Campbell case. However, out of fairness to Lawrence Campbell's widow and two children, to date inexplicably they have been denied access to eye records.

What is clear in this case -- and I emphasize this one case -- is that LASIK surgery clearly constituted a material contributing factor, if not the sole factor, to police officer Campbell's suicide. To Mrs. Campbell's knowledge, prior to his LASIK surgery she reports that her husband suffered from no mental illness whatsoever.

Now you have heard today and certainly recognize that LASIK surgery helps the vast majority of patients who have it. For a small minority, their regret is profound. For a smaller minority of patients still, depression associated with their visual disability is real. The association with suicide and bad LASIK outcomes, however rare, cannot be dismissed, and warrants further investigation.

As a final point, I would just like to call the FDA's attention to its reporting obligations. The FDA's work should be transparent and readily available to the public. It is not always. Nine months ago, my law firm served a Freedom of Information request to obtain information concerning the Administration's recall of the Alcon LADARVision 6000. To date, we have still received no substantive response. Vindication of injured patients' rights depends on timely disclosure of such information. Thank you.

Source: http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/08/transcripts/2008-4353t1-02.pdf

Click here to read suicide note - Slide 6, 7 and 8. 

Update May 28, 2011: 20/20 Hindsight on Canada's GlobalTV program 16:9 The Bigger Picture features Larry Campbell's story as told by his son.