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Richmond County jury clears surgeon in laceration of hepatic artery during laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

The 61-year-old plaintiff alleged that his surgeon was negligent in proceeding with a laparoscopic cholecystectomy when inflammation prevented adequate visualization of the anatomy. An artery, believed by the surgeon to be an aberrant branch of the right hepatic artery, was lacerated, causing an estimated blood loss of 2000 cc requiring transfusion with three units of packed red blood cells. The bleed, and inability to clip the vessel laparoscopically in a safe manner, necessitated the conversion of the surgery to an open procedure, resulting in a scar the entire length of the patient's abdomen. Concerned that the common bile duct (CBD) may have been injured during suture ligation of the bleeding vessel (an intraoperative cholangiogram demonstrated a stricture of the CBD), the patient was referred to a gastroenterologist for placement of stents to prevent further stricture. The stents remained in place for 4 months and the plaintiff did not have any compromise of his liver function. Plaintiff also alleged that the defendant was negligent in performing the surgery with a resident, who was doing the dissection under his direct supervision when the laceration occurred. Plaintiff also contended that the defendant did not inform him of the likelihood the laparoscopic procedure would have to be converted to an open procedure, and did not apprise him of any risks of surgery. The testimony of the defendant surgeon and an expert in hepatobiliary surgery established that the procedure was performed within the standard of care; that the bleed was unavoidable, and managed appropriately; that appropriate information was given to the patient so that he could make an informed decision as to whether to undergo the surgery; and that it was appropriate for the surgery to be done by the defendant with the assistance of the 4th year resident. The jury took just 1 hour to find in favor of the defendant on all issues.

Categories: Defense Verdict
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