Bad Gallbladder Surgery
Bad gallbladder surgeries come in many forms. For instance, many gallbladder surgeries should never have been performed in the first place. In other cases, the surgeon fails to recognize damage to a surrounding structure causing injury the patient. It is important to understand what a gallbladder does and why gallbladder surgery is done to better determine if you are the victim of medical negligence in bad gallbladder surgery.
What does the gallbladder do?
The gallbladder stores bile (a liquid material) that helps your body break down food. In some instances, small, dense deposits known as gallstones can build up in the gallbladder. These gallstones caused issues within the gallbladder and prevent it from functioning. In some instances, your doctor may recommend removing your gallbladder.
How do you know if you need your gallbladder removed?
As discussed, gallstones are a leading reason for gallbladder surgery. You are especially at risk for gallbladder surgery is your are a woman, overweight, and middle-aged.
A gallbladder surgery is known as a cholecystectomy. Only you and your doctor can decide when is the right time (if ever) to remove your gallbladder. When your physician is considering gallbladder surgery, the following symptoms may be present:
Jaundice (a medical term for your skin or eyes looking yellow);
Abdominal pain or discomfort.
Diagnostic testing, in the form of an ultrasound, will help your doctor understand whether these symptoms are related to your gallbladder. Likely your doctor will ask about your diet and attempt to resolve the symptoms with a better diet before offering surgery. Yet, at some point, your doctor may recommend a cholecystectomy. But which kind will your surgeon recommend?
What are the types of gallbladder surgery (cholecystectomy)?
The “old school” way is called an open surgery. This involves a larger incision in the abdomen and requires the surgeon to perform the operation with traditional instruments. The recover time for this type of surgery is not desirable as the incision is larger. Older surgeons are likely to have performed many open surgeries. In some cases, the surgeon must decide to switch to this older method because other methods become unsafe. Younger surgeons likely have less training with open surgery as they are more likely to have been trained and performed laparoscopic or robot-assisted gallbladder surgery. It is important for you to find out how much experience your surgeon has if he recommends an open surgery.
Laparoscopic surgery is another way to remove the gallbladder, and in this surgery, your surgeon is still standing over you. He will use a small camera and instruments to perform the surgery. Your surgeon will make small incisions (several). The healing time should be around a week or so with this type of surgery, and this type of surgery is generally considered less invasive than open surgery. Most surgeons should have vast experience with laparoscopic surgery, and this type of gallbladder surgery is very common.
Robotic-assisted gallbladder surgery is where your surgeon is not physically standing over you-similar to laparoscopic surgery. The difference between the two, the surgeon is using a robot to actually perform the surgery. The surgeon guides the robot. He is stationed at the machine operating the robot and not over you. This particular surgery is newer and many older surgeons have not received enough training. While the robotic-assisted gallbladder surgery is safer for surgeons who have been trained, it can be deadly for surgeons without proper training.
How is Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery Performed?
You will be under general anesthesia- which means you won't be awake. While you are asleep, the surgeon will make small incisions near your belly button and insert a device to help guide him or her toward your gallbladder. The small device is known as a port. The surgeon then fills your stomach with gas. This creates an opening for the surgeon to work.
The surgeon will then place a small camera in the port. After the camera is in place, the surgeon will begin using his instruments and the camera to make his cuts. He will remove the gallbladder and take it out through the incision. In some cases, you will need at least three incisions. These incisions should be fairly small. If your surgeon uses the robot-assisted surgery method, the procedure is the same except the surgeon is not guiding the instruments with his hands.
How long does it take to recover from gallbladder surgery?
There are various types of gallbladder surgery, including laparoscopic and robotic-assisted, gallbladder surgery. The recovery times can vary person to person and surgery to surgery. In the typical gallbladder surgery where everything goes well you should expect to be in discomfort for 7 to 10 days. In two or three weeks, the discomfort should be gone. If you are someone who has to have open surgery, the recovery time can take much longer.
What should you expect during and after gallbladder surgery?
Gallbladder surgery should take about one to two hours. That assumes the no complications arise during the surgery. You should expect to be in a recovery room the same day.
After the surgery, the most obviously benefit is relief from the symptoms that caused you to pursue the surgery in the first place. In addition, the post-surgery pain and soreness should resolve within a week or so after the surgery. Nausea, redness, continued aches, bloating, among other symptoms can be signs that surgery did not go well.
What are complications with gallbladder removal?
While complications are rare, they do happen, and they can occur because of medical negligence. There are certain complications which are clearly medical negligence and some which are considered appreciable risks. An appreciable risk is just something that can happen even when the medical provider makes no mistakes.
Complication that aren't likely caused by medical negligence:
Infection. In any surgery and especially an open cholecystectomy the risk of infection is present. Many potential medical malpractice clients are surprised to know that infections are appreciable risks. This means that even if the surgeon does everything right, you can still get infected.
Hernia. A hernia is a small amount of your intestine bulging through the muscle that covers it. There is some debate as to whether a hernia after a gallbladder surgery is medical malpractice or an appreciable risk.
Complication that are likely caused by medical negligence:
Injury to the bile duct. If your bile duct has been cut or severed, you likely have a medical malpractice claim against the surgery. While bile duct injury is a type of injury that is defendable by the surgeon, many doctors agree that cutting and especially severing the bile duct is medical negligence.
Good surgeons can cut the bile duct or similar structure, but a good surgeon will also know when it has been cut and fix the same during surgery. In some instances, the surgeon will close the patient up without recognizing the injury. Even if the surgeon claims cutting the duct is not negligence-failure to recognize the injury would be medical malpractice. This type of injury can be compensable especially when the surgeon and other healthcare providers fail to realize the injury. Complications from an injured bile duct can be severe and lead to infections, worsening symptoms, and in some cases death.
Hepatic Artery Damage. This type of injury is another injury that is caused by the surgeon. While this is a rare complication, it is almost always caused by the surgeon's negligence. Any cholecystectomy with damage to the hepatic artery or similar structures is likely a compensable medical malpractice claims. Hepatic artery damage with robotic-assisted cholecystectomy is possible when a surgeon is simply unfamiliar with the instruments or makes an incredible error in judgment.
Complications from this injury can be severe- just like injury the bile duct. In some instances the surgeon can injure both.
There are many other structures around the gallbladder which can be injured in a cholecystectomy. Some injuries are not the result of medical negligence and others are. While there is some debate as to which structure amount to medical negligence when cut or damaged, one thing remains clear, the surgeon must recognize when a structure is injured. Failure to do so can result in medical malpractice.
Consulting an medical malpractice lawyer with experience investigating bad cholecystectomies is your best bet in determining whether you were injured because
Complication requiring immediate medical attention after a gallbladder surgery?
Intense pain or swelling in your abdomen;
Leaking or discharge from incision areas;
Inability to eat or drink;
Shortness of breath; and
Feeling sick to your stomach
Frankly, only you know your body. If you don't feel right within a day or so, seek the advice of your treatment provider.
Our office has and is currently litigating cases against health providers who were negligent in performing surgery. We have experience securing financial compensation, and if you have questions, we are happy to discuss the particular of your case free of charge. If we believe you have a case, we accept cases on a contingency fee basis which means you pay nothing up front and only pay if we win. Schedule a call or contact us.