You or a family member had some digestive problems and the surgeon told you that they were coming from gallstones. The surgeon recommended that you have your gall bladder removed. He/she told you it would be a simple procedure that could be done laparoscopically with a short hospital stay. You thought all would be well; however, something happened during the procedure and now you have had to have one or two more surgeries.
You were told that you had a Common Bile Duct Injury – What’s that all about?
The gallbladder is an organ on the bottom of the liver. It stores and concentrates a substance called bile. Bile helps the body digest fat. When I eat a cheeseburger and fries, my brain sends a signal to the gall bladder tell it to squeeze out some bile. The bile travels from the gallbladder down the common bile duct to the first part of the small intestine called the duodenum. In the duodenum the bile will mix with my chewed cheeseburger and fries and increases the surface area so enzymes from the pancreas can do some work and break down my meal.
The primary reason for removal of the gallbladder is gallstones, which can block the flow of bile. The stones can also block the duct from the gallbladder to the common bile duct and cause a medical emergency.
There are two ways to removal the gallbladder. An open surgical procedure is when the surgeon opens up the abdominal wall, dissects his way down to the gallbladder and removes the organ. The main benefit of an open procedure is that the surgeon can clearly visualize the abdomen and the organ.
The surgeon can also remove the organ laparoscopically. In this procedure, the surgeon does not actually enter the abdomen. She puts three small holes in the abdomen, puts cameras and instruments through the holes and removes the gallbladder. The main benefits of the laparascopic procedure are a much shorter hospital stay and improved recovery time.
In my experience, the malpractice occurs in one of two ways. First, when the surgeon enters the belly with the first trocar (port) and injuries a blood vessel or vital organ. This happens when the surgeon is not in the correct anatomical area, inserts the trocar too deeply or places the trocar hastily without identifying the blood vessels or vital organs through the camera.
The second area of malpractice happens when the surgeon thinks he is cutting the cystic duct to remove the gall bladder but instead he cuts or otherwise injures the common bile duct. When performing the procedure, the surgeon needs to cut the cystic duct to remove the gallbladder from the bottom of the liver. If the surgeon believes the common bile duct is the cystic duct the injury occurs.
For repair, the patient has to undergo another procedure where they bypass a portion of the small intestine and connect the second part of the small intestine (jejunum) to the liver so bile can get into the small intestine. Some folks do real well after reparative surgery and these folks typically will not have a medical malpractice claim. Other folks do poorly. They can develop strictures (narrowing) of the hepatobiliary tree, which can wreak havoc the rest of their live. A small percentage of folks will develop peritonitis and die because the healthcare providers did not realize the common bile duct was injured until it’s too late.
If you have any questions about a Florida gallbladder malpractice claim, you can give me a call directly on my cell at 352-267-9168 or fill out the internet consultation form on the right.