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General surgeon ties off common bile duct during gallbladder surgery and fails to realize it. Find out what happened...

Have you ever had a surgery that did not go right? Or are you worried about something going wrong during an upcoming surgery? That is exactly what happened during one gall bladder operation that did not go so well.

What would you do if a part of your body was accidentally tied off?

One man went in for a routine gall bladder surgery but got much more than he had asked for. The surgery was supposed to be simple, safe and quick. But his surgical team went more than a little too far. The surgeon accidentally clipped the man’s common bile duct during his gall bladder surgery, and did not even realize their mistake causing him a world of pain.

The man was told by his doctors that he needed to have his gall bladder removed and there was no way around it. The surgeon also told the man that he would have to have it removed ‘laparoscopically’.

What does this fancy medical jargon mean? The term generally means that he would not have a big open incision. Instead he would have a rather small incision and the surgeons would utilize laparoscopic tools. Laparoscopic gall bladder surgeries (involve smaller incisions) are the recommended form of gall bladder surgery as it is supposed to be safer.

Why is it better to have a smaller incision rather than a big open one?

Smaller incisions are generally considered safer which is one of the main reasons why surgeons recommend laparoscopic surgery.

Why are smaller incisions better?

This is because they cause less bleeding, it reduces the risk of infection and usually shortens the length of time the patient has to stay in the hospital because he or she will need less time to recover (and therefore will save on medical bills expenses as well).

After laparoscopic surgery the patient can usually go home the same day or the day after. With a laparaotomy incision, the patient usually spends a few days in the hospital.

So when did the patient finally realize that his gallbladder surgery did not go as well as he thought it did?

The patient actually thought everything was pretty rosy at first. He went home after surgery feeling ok. But everything quickly took a sharp spiral turn downwards.

Normal symptoms after gall bladder surgery include: bloating, gas and diarrhea. But this patient was experiencing problems that far outweighed those. After a few days the patient began to feel nauseous. He also started to experience severe pains in his abdomen. The patient tried contacting his doctor to no avail.

The physician finally responded after some time and his rather unhelpful advice consisted of him referring the patient to someone else. He claimed the referral doctor would be able to give the patient more tests to figure out why he was having these post-operative symptoms.

About a week and a half later, the patient was in such dire shape that he could not even stand up properly due to the excruciating pain. After not getting any proper help from the doctors he contacted, the patient finally went to the emergency room.

The emergency room doctors realized that the patient’s issue must have been stemming from his recent surgery. Exploratory surgery revealed that the patient’s common bile duct was clamped and cut off in its entirety.

What is the reasonable standard for gallbladder surgeries?

How is gall bladder surgery actually supposed to go?

Web MD says gall bladder surgery consists of removing the gall bladder and gall stones through numerous small incisions in the abdomen. “The surgeon inflates your abdomen with air or carbon dioxide in order to see clearly. The surgeon inserts a lighted scope attached to a video camera (laparoscope) into one incision near the belly button. The surgeon then uses a video monitor as a guide while inserting surgical instruments into the other incisions to remove your gallbladder,” according to the experts at WebMD.

After surgery patients are supposed to have bile flowing from the liver (where it is formed) through the common bile duct and then into the small intestine. This is where the patient’s surgeons took a wrong turn. They incorrectly placed a clamp on the common bile duct, which stopped the bile from flowing through to the small intestine making it no longer able to leave the patient’s body. It is particularly dangerous to have bile flowing through the body because it has toxins, which if it enters the bloodstream, can cause serious life-threatening issues.

Web MD says, “Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is usually safe and effective. Surgery gets rid of gallstones located in the gallbladder. It does not remove stones in the common bile duct. Gallstones can form in the common bile duct years after the gallbladder is removed, although this is rare. The overall risk of laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is very low. The most serious possible complications include: infection of an incision, internal bleeding, injury to the common bile duct, injury to the small intestine by one of the instruments used during surgery, gallstones, injury to the cystic duct and bile that leaks into a patient’s abdominal cavity.”

What problems did the patient face afterwards?

Lack of a working common bile duct prevented the patient from being able to pass his bile. You can imagine how uncomfortable this made him feel. Since the bile could not pass, it was backing the patient up and leaking out into his body creating severe pain.

As a result of this serious leaking of bile into the patient’s body he needed emergency surgery. It was then that he had an enormous incision made into his body. This is called a laparotomy.

Patients are more prone to infections and a much longer hospital stay after bigger incisions are made. This incision is known to be a whopping ten to twelve inches long. To give you a mental picture of what it looks like, the incision goes from one side of the patient’s belly all the way to the other side. 

Not only did he have to have corrective surgery but he was also forced to stay in the hospital for three full weeks. The patient was not able to go to work and was miserable during this time.

You must be wondering, how was his bile being vacated without the common bile duct? The patient had to have drainage tubes placed in his body for six long months.

How long did the patient have to file his claim?

It is definitely better that the patient realized his issue sooner than later and sought treatment followed by legal help. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in New York is generally two and a half years but that is subject to certain exceptions. These exceptions depend on many things such as whether the negligence took place in a private or public hospital and what type of negligence and procedure took place. So, in order to figure out whether you have a claim and whether it is timely you must speak to an experienced attorney who handles these cases on a daily basis.

How is the patient doing today?

After six months of treatment and bed rest the patient made a decent recovery. I was able to resolve his case favorably, and in spite of a clear violation of the standard of medical care, he’s able to live his life without any significant restrictions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer