Verdict in Botched Gallbladder Surgery: $868,828
2017 Medical Malpractice Trial Report
Surgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital Transects Bile Duct During Gallbladder Removal
In July of 2011, the plaintiff went to the emergency room with abdominal pain. He was admitted and diagnostic testing was performed. The test results indicated that the plaintiff needed his gallbladder removed. The individual defendant, a surgeon, performed the procedure laparascopically and described finding severe inflammation, gangrene and pus. He determined that he could not safely continue the surgery laparascopically and converted to open surgery. He then commenced a dome-down approach to removing the gallbladder, which he testified was the safest way to perform gallbladder removal in the face of severe inflammation.
In his operative note, the surgeon did not describe obtaining the so-called Critical View of Safety, which is the standard approach to identifying the correct structures to be cut in gallbladder removal surgery. Failure to do so can lead to misidentification of structures and, consequently, injuring the bile duct. If the bile duct is transected or otherwise injured, bile may not flow from the liver to the gastrointestinal tract, which can cause problems for the patient. Following the removal of the gallbladder, the surgeon did an intraoperative cholangiogram (x-ray study using dye) that suggested he had already injured the bile duct.
The patient’s post-operative course resulted in further diagnostic testing, which confirmed an injury to the bile duct. The patient was transferred into Boston for tertiary care and was subjected to numerous invasive tests and was ultimately brought back to the operating room for major surgery to reconstruct his biliary tree so that bile would be able to flow from the liver to his gastrointestinal tract. Plaintiff’s expert opined that it was negligent to transect the bile duct, which would have been avoided with proper surgical technique and identification of structures.
The defense claimed that injury to the bile duct was a known and, at times, unavoidable risk of the surgery. The defendant also vigorously disputed that the bile duct had in fact been transected and challenged the extent of the harm to the plaintiff.
However, plaintiff’s counsel cross-examined him with the testing and records from both hospitals that established the plaintiff’s injury to be a “transection” injury and highlighted for the jury all the different ways in which the plaintiff’s life had been impacted by the injury to his bile duct.
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