When Gallbladder Removal Goes Wrong

When Gallbladder Removal Goes Wrong

Much like your tonsils, appendix and wisdom teeth, your gallbladder is not necessary for survival. This small, hollow organ assists the body in the digestive process by storing bile produced by the liver and pumping it to the small intestine when needed to break down fatty food. Bile flows out of the liver through the left and right hepatic ducts, which come together to form the common hepatic duct. This duct then joins with a duct connected to the gallbladder, called the cystic duct, to form the common bile duct. If there is an imbalance in the chemical substances that make up bile, hard stones can form and can cause great discomfort when they block normal bile flow. The first choice of treatment for surgically removing the gallbladder is by laparoscopic cholecystectomy, although a more invasive method called an open cholecystectomy must sometimes be used.

Without the gallbladder, the bile then moves directly from the liver to the small intestine – usually without a noticeable change in the patient’s digestive health.

It is estimated that over 750,000 laparoscopic cholecystectomies are performed each year. Their popularity has attracted both skilled and unskilled surgeons. Of course, doctors of any experience level can still make mistakes, and it’s the patients who suffer. When the proper degree of medical care is not observed,  the doctor may be held liable for malpractice. While not every complication associated with laparoscopic gallbladder surgery rises to the level of malpractice, the most common problems caused by medical mistake are perforation of other organs (which can lead to sepsis) and accidental cutting or nicking of the common bile duct.

Severed or punctured bile ducts can cause bile to back up into the bloodstream or leak out into the abdominal cavity, resulting in jaundice, severe pain, infection, organ failure and even death.

This past summer, a woman from Clarkesville, GA, was awarded almost $11 million for her gallbladder medical malpractice claim. The surgeon, the hospital, and the nurse anesthetists who attended her were found responsible for her past, present, and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. The surgeon “negligently lacerated” the patient’s left common iliac artery, causing her to bleed internally and lose almost 80 percent of her blood before being transferred to a larger facility and receiving a blood transfusion. The lack of blood and of oxygen irreversibly damaged her organs and left her with serious injuries that will require lifelong medical care.

If you think you need gallbladder surgery, ask your doctor how many procedures he or she has done, what their complication rate is, and whether there are other treatment options. If you have any questions about this topic, or if you have received an injury as a result of a botched gallbladder surgery, the Macon personal injury attorneys of the Mann Law Firm can review your case and advise you whether you have grounds to seek financial compensation. Call us today at (478) 742-3381 or submit our online form.