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$2.2 Million Verdict for Botched Gall Bladder Surgery

Joram Hirsch 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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