Gallbladder Surgery Mistakes: $1M Settlement

2015 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Lawsuit claimed surgeon was negligent when he failed to properly identify and protect the hepatic artery, common bile duct, and portal vein

The plaintiff is an 84-year-old woman who suffered a transected hepatic artery and portal vein, and injury to her common bile duct during a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal surgery) performed by the defendant surgeon.

On 6/21/13, the plaintiff underwent laparoscopic cholecystectomy with the defendant surgeon. Intra-operatively, the defendant encountered a large amount of bleeding, obstructing his view of the surgical field; however, he failed to perform an intraoperative cholangiogram and continued with the surgery. Postoperatively, the plaintiff developed elevated total bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase, AST and ALT levels, indicating a common bile duct injury.

The plaintiff was transferred to a tertiary care facility for exploratory laparotomy, portal vein and hepatic artery reconstruction, and removal of gallbladder calculi. The operative findings included a patchy-necrotic liver; a necrotic bile duct with no blood flow; no arterial flow into the liver; and minimal flow to the portal vein. There were clips on multiple different structures including the distal transected portion of the bile duct, the right hepatic artery, the proper hepatic artery and multiple clips along the course of the portal vein. The plaintiff required resection of the damaged hepatic artery with reconstruction of left and right hepatic arteries, resection and reconstruction of the damage portal vein, and extensive perihepatic drainage. Moreover, the bile duct was so extensively necrotic that that the surgeon could not safely attempt reconstruction during this procedure. In fact, the surgeon was concerned that the plaintiff would not survive this surgery because of her extensive injuries. Instead, he elected to place 2 drains and monitor the plaintiff to determine whether she would be able to survive “this whole process.”

gallbladder surgeon photoWhen Gallbladder Surgery Goes Wrong
See our Patient Safety Blog Post on serious medical mistakes related to gallbladder surgery.

Postoperatively, the plaintiff was critically ill, in septic shock, and respiratory failure. Over the following five months, the plaintiff was in and out of hospitals and rehab facilities.

On 12/4/13, the plaintiff underwent bile duct reconstruction surgery as a result of her “catastrophic” laparoscopic bile duct injury in June 2013. The plaintiff required two hospital re-admissions in January 2014 for a biliary stricture before finally recovering from her surgical complications.

The plaintiff claimed that the defendant surgeon negligently performed the laparoscopic cholecystectomy when he failed to properly identify and protect the hepatic artery, common bile duct, and portal vein prior to dissection and, that a direct result, the plaintiff sustained significant injuries requiring extensive surgical and medical care.

The case was settled pre-suit.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys Andrew C. Meyer, Jr. and Nicholas Cappiello represented the plaintiff in this medical malpractice lawsuit.

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