A North Carolina woman had elevated liver enzymes that led to her have her gallbladder removed during laparoscopic surgery (i.e., laparoscopic cholecystectomy) in Virginia. During the procedure, the surgeon improperly cut the woman’s common hepatic duct and her left and right hepatic ducts, according to the woman’s Virginia medical malpractice lawsuit.
The injury was not discovered by the surgeon before the surgery was concluded (bile duct injuries are identified by surgeons at the time of surgery in 10% to 30% of the cases, which may be discovered if the surgeon sees leaking bile or a blockage or by intraoperative cholangiography (IOC) – a radiological procedure in which dye if injected to make sure that the flow of bile is clearly visible on the x-ray image).
During the afternoon following her morning surgery, the woman telephoned the surgeon’s office and advised the nurse in the surgeon’s office that she was experiencing pain. The nurse allgedly told the woman that her pain was normal but failed to advise the surgeon regarding the call from his patient.
Five days after her surgery, the woman was still experiencing abdominal pain and also had left shoulder pain and she could not keep food down, so she called the surgeon’s office to ask that her narcotic medication be changed. The nurse who answered her telephone call (a different nurse than the nurse she had spoken with the afternoon of her surgery) advised the woman that her symptoms were normal but changed her medication, according to the woman’s medical malpractice claim. The nurse, however, did not advise the surgeon regarding the woman’s telephone call or the change in medication.
Nine days later, the woman called the surgeon’s office again and spoke with the nurse, advising her that her pain had increased and that she was now spitting up black bile. The nurse told the woman to go to the emergency room but once again the nurse failed to advise the surgeon regarding the woman’s telephone call.
The woman was admitted to a hospital in North Carolina, where she lived, at which time she had four liters of bile drained before undergoing surgery. The woman required three major surgeries and other major procedures during the following three years. She will require future surgeries and will need medication and monitoring for the rest of her life.
The pre-trial settlement offer in the amount of $600,000 was rejected. The Virginia medical malpractice trial lasted two and a half days in early January 2016, after which the jury deliberated for two hours before awarding the plaintiff $1.875 million in compensatory damages. The jury did not hold the defendant surgeon responsible but did find his medical practice liable to the plaintiff.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries or other harms as a result of medical malpractice in Virginia or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Virginia medical malpractice attorney (or a medical malpractice attorney in your state) who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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