$2.2 Million Verdict for Botched Gall Bladder Surgery

We represented the estate and widow of a 64-year-old artist who died following gallbladder surgery.

Our client went to the hospital emergency room with severe abdominal pain. He was diagnosed with gallstone pancreatitis. Three days later, a surgeon performed a laparoscopic cholecystectomy to remove his gallbladder. As part of the surgery, the cystic duct, which connects the gallbladder to the common bile duct, had to be cut and clipped to prevent bile from leaking into his abdomen.

Our client was discharged from the hospital the day after surgery. A week later, he went to his surgeon’s office for a post-operative visit. He complained of pain and his blood tests showed his liver function tests were above normal limits. His surgeon instructed him to return to the office the following week.

When our client returned the following week, his liver function tests were still abnormal, and he was admitted to the hospital. A CT scan done in the hospital showed that a large collection of bile had leaked into his abdomen. Despite the presence of fever, the surgeon did not react promptly and drain the bile collection until five days after admission. By that time, it was too late: our client died from an infection that had grown in the bile. On autopsy it was found that the clip which the surgeon had placed on the cystic duct to prevent bile from leaking into the abdomen had fallen off.

We presented expert testimony that the treating surgeon, was negligent in four ways: 1) failing to properly clip the cystic duct during the surgery; 2) discharging our client from the hospital the day after surgery; 3) failing to start a workup on the cause of the abnormal liver function tests the week after the surgery; and 4) failing to drain the bile collection and commence appropriate antibiotics sooner.

The jury returned a plaintiffs' verdict in the amount of $2.2 million to compensate for the wrongful death of our client and his widow's loss of consortium.

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