Each year, our law firm receives several requests to review medical malpractice cases involving the removal of the gallbladder to treat gallstones. We typically pursue one to two of these cases per year.
The procedure allows for bile to bypass the gallbladder on its way out of the liver. Bile is a substance created in the liver and used for digestion of food in the small intestine. Bile normally flows from the liver down the right and left “hepatic ducts” into the “common hepatic duct” and is stored in the gallbladder until it is needed for digestion. When gallstones form in the gallbladder – a condition known as “cholelithiasis,” – they can interfere with the normal flow of bile and disrupt the digestion process. This can be a very painful and debilitating condition.
To treat and remove the gallstones, doctors often recommend that the patient undergo a “laparoscopic cholecystectomy,” which is the removal of the gallbladder through minimally invasive surgery. During a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, the gallbladder is removed and then the bile flows directly from the liver through the right and left hepatic ducts and then into the small intestine.
Unfortunately, all too often doctors who perform this gallbladder removal surgery will clip and/or divide the common bile duct which then stops the flow of bile between the liver and the small intestine. This surgical mistake allows bile to flow freely from the liver out of the common hepatic duct and directly into the abdomen. It results in extremely painful fluid build-up in the abdomen and pelvis and can lead to severe liver damage, sometimes requiring a liver transplant.
We have successfully pursued numerous cases involving negligently performed gallbladder removal surgeries. In the past, we have obtained settlements in such cases ranging from several hundred thousand dollars to more than one million dollars. We also obtained a jury verdict in such a case of $2.8 million. Negligent laparoscopic cholecystectomy cases are complicated and should therefore be reviewed and pursued only by competent and experienced medical malpractice attorneys.