Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove an individual’s gallbladder. Traditionally, gallbladders were removed via a four- to six-inch abdomen incision. The surgeon would then find the gallbladder and pull it through the incision.
The laparoscopic procedure is less invasive, requiring three to four very small incisions in which a tiny camera and surgical tools are inserted into the body. The surgeon operates with these tools, using images from the camera projected on a television monitor as a guide. The vast majority of gallbladder removals are done laparoscopically today.
While a less-invasive procedure typically leads to a shorter recovery time for the patient, laparoscopic cholecystectomy has a high rate of complications. These complications are often the result of negligence by the surgical or post-surgery staff.
Here is a look at the type of injuries that can occur during laparoscopic cholecystectomy, how these injuries occur, the impacts complications from this procedure can cause, and the process of obtaining compensation when a provider’s negligence causes you to incur injuries during surgery. If you experience injuries during a laparoscopic cholecystectomy due to medical negligence then chicago medical malpractice lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Why Is Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy Necessary?
The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ on the right side of the abdomen, beneath the liver. The purpose of this organ is to hold the digestive fluid (bile) that is released into the small intestine.
According to Mayo Clinic, gallstones are hardened bile deposits that form in the gallbladder. They can range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball and commonly produce symptoms such as intense pain in the abdomen, nausea or vomiting, or pain in the right shoulder or between the shoulder blades.
While most gallstones pass on their own, for some individuals, laparoscopic cholecystectomy is necessary to relieve the pain associated with gallstones and prevent the condition from recurring. The intention of removing the gallbladder is to allow bile to flow directly to the small intestine from the liver without being stored in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is not needed to survive or digest food properly.
How Is the Procedure Typically Performed?
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is one of the most common surgical procedures in the U.S., with roughly 400,000 people undergoing this procedure each year. Approximately 8,000 of those surgeries will result in complications.
As explained by Johns Hopkins Medicine, the cholecystectomy procedure can be performed in a hospital or an outpatient setting. It is done under general anesthesia, which means the patient is unconscious. The medical practitioner makes three to four small incisions in the abdomen, introducing carbon dioxide gas to the abdomen to cause the organs to swell so they can be easily seen.
The medical practitioner then places a laparoscope—a thin tube with a camera attached— in one of the incisions, before inserting small surgical tools into the body through the other incisions. The doctor then removes the gallbladder from the abdominal cavity.
After the doctor completes the procedure, they remove the laparoscope and surgical tools and release the carbon dioxide from the body through the incisions. A medical practitioner then closes the incisions with stitches or surgical staples and sends the gallbladder to the lab.
How Do Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy Injuries Occur?
The medical practitioner may accidentally cut, burn, or pinch the common bile duct during laparoscopic cholecystectomy. This can cause the bile to leak into the abdomen or the bile duct to fail to work properly after the procedure.
Often, injuries to the bile duct are apparent during the procedure, and the surgeon can act quickly to repair the damage. This repair often includes using a piece of the small intestine to replace the common bile duct or creating a way for bile to bypass the damaged area. However, if the surgeon fails to notice the error during the surgery and the surgical site is closed, bile can continue leaking into the abdomen. This can result in an infection and jaundice, a trademark sign of bile duct injuries that causes yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
Other common injuries during this surgical procedure include damage to surrounding organs and significant blood loss.
While any procedure poses medical risks, many complications arising from laparoscopic cholecystectomy result from carelessness or recklessness (negligence) on the part of hospital staff.
Some examples of negligent behavior that results in laparoscopic cholecystectomy complications include:
- The surgeon’s lack of familiarity with identifying the bile duct and other nearby structures.
- Failure to properly consider factors involving the patient’s overall physical health and medical history and deciding on a laparoscopic cholecystectomy instead of attempting other treatments that could be safer and more effective at treating gallstones.
- Failure to recognize excessive bleeding during the surgery or make an effort to have a vascular surgeon evaluate the patient’s bleeding during the procedure to determine if additional measures are needed to reduce blood loss.
- Failure to properly monitor the patient after the procedure to discover signs of medical distress or infection.
- Refusal to perform an open procedure when medically indicated or when the doctor would have a better view of the organs than is available through the laparoscope.
What Are the Impacts of a Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy Complication?
When a patient is made aware of complications experienced during gallbladder removal surgery, the damage they incurred is often discussed in vague terms. There was a leak. Something was nicked. The patient commonly goes on to experience debilitating pain, a decline in health, and numerous other impacts resulting from what had been portrayed to them as a common and minimally invasive procedure.
Some of these impacts include:
- Lost income due to the inability to work due to surgical complications.
- Increased expenses for medical treatment to repair complications or relieve the patient’s pain level.
- Lost ability to participate in enjoyable or important activities due to the patient’s decline in health.
- Increased risk of death resulting from infections and blood loss incurred as a result of the procedure.
What Can You Do if a Provider’s Negligence Led to Your Surgical Complications in Chicago, Illinois?
Most medical professionals and facilities obtain medical malpractice insurance. This is a form of professional liability insurance designed to cover patients’ injuries as a result of the doctor’s error. While not all states require providers to carry a medical malpractice policy, most do.
A medical malpractice policy held by a hospital or other healthcare facility covers the facility and medical staff, such as nurses and nurse assistants. Physicians and surgeons typically work as independent contractors and are required to obtain their own policies to have privileges at the hospital where they perform procedures. Their policy provides coverage of injuries or deaths resulting from their own errors and those of medical staff working directly under their supervision.
When an individual sustains laparoscopic cholecystectomy complications involving the common bile duct or other injuries as a result of the surgeon’s carelessness during the procedure or the negligence of medical staff during follow-up care, the patient has the right to seek compensation for the financial and psychological costs they incurred due to that error. The medical malpractice claims process generally begins with a claim filed against the at-fault provider or facility’s medical malpractice policy.
When the insurance provider who carries that policy receives the claim, they will have a claims adjuster evaluate the claim to determine the provider’s liability and how much is owed to the claimant.
If the insurer fails to fairly compensate the claim, it can be filed as a medical malpractice lawsuit. This legal claim is filed in civil court for a judge or jury to hear the case and determine the liability of the medical provider and the amount of compensation to be awarded to the claimant.
Hire an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Chicago, IL
The process described above sounds simple enough, but it is not. Medical malpractice insurers—like other types of insurance providers—do not like to pay out claims and will fight vigorously to avoid doing so. The court process comes with a pre-determined deadline, known as the statute of limitations, and this deadline varies from state to state, sometimes featuring exceptions for certain types of claims or circumstances.
Missing the deadline for your claim can derail your effort to receive compensation for the expenses and effects of your injury. The court will not consider an expired claim, and the insurance company won’t settle it either.
Beyond these difficulties, additional issues make medical malpractice claims difficult. These include knowing how and where to gather evidence that can prove the claim and having expert witnesses who can help a judge or jury understand the error made and how it resulted in injury.
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer understands the work involved in this type of claim and has a team to help gather the needed documentation. A medical malpractice lawyer also knows how medical malpractice insurance—and the companies that provide this insurance—work. They can guide you through the process, performing the steps needed to garner a settlement on your behalf or prove your claim in a courtroom.
The Compensation Available If You Have Sustained Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy Injuries in Chicago, Illinois
Individuals who suffered complications from laparoscopic cholecystectomy often agreed to have the procedure because they were told it was minimally invasive, required little recovery time, and so frequently performed that it seemed to be the only option to relieve the pain associated with gallstones. Suddenly, they face extensive follow-up procedures to repair the damage from the complication, along with additional expenses, lost work, and other impacts.
If you suffered laparoscopic cholecystectomy complications due to a healthcare provider’s error, you could receive compensation for:
- All medical treatment provided to treat the injury.
- Wages and other benefits resulting from missed work due to the injury.
- Lost earning capacity if the complications give rise to a permanent disability and the sufferer can no longer earn as they did before the error occurred.
- Physical pain and suffering resulting from the error.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of ability to enjoy hobbies and events that were important to the sufferer before the injury occurred.
Proving Liability in a Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy Injury Claim in Chicago, IL
For a successful medical malpractice claim after a provider’s error during laparoscopic cholecystectomy, you must prove:
- The provider had a doctor-patient relationship with the patient, which conveys the duty to take reasonable actions to avoid causing harm to the patient.
- The duty that was owed to the patient was breached when the provider or medical staff took unsafe actions or failed to take reasonable actions to prevent harm.
- Because of the breach of the duty that was owed by the provider, you sustained an injury during a laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedure.
- The error that caused your injury resulted in expenses and psychological impacts.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Law Firm in Joliet to learn more information
Hiring a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible helps protect your right to file a claim and receive fair compensation for your laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer from Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys.