If you’ve been injured as a result of negligence, carelessness, or another form of medical malpractice during gallbladder removal surgery in Denver, contact the Olson Law Firm right away. Medical malpractice cases are complex, but our skilled legal team knows how to hold medical professionals accountable when their negligent mistakes cause harm.
Sean Olson has a “Superb” rating from the ratings agency Avvo.com, is named a Colorado “Super-Lawyer”, and is a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an invitation-only organization for attorneys who have won multi-million dollar judgments for their clients.
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Gallbladder Surgery Complications in Denver
Some of the potential complications that can occur during gallbladder removal surgery include:
- Tears that occur when surgical instruments are inserted
- Hepatic ducts or the common bile duct being cut or clipped during surgery
- Inflammation of the bile ducts
- Lacerations of the bowel or intestines, which can lead to bile leaks, infections, and abscesses
- Gallstones being pushed into the common bile duct or remaining in the abdominal cavity
- Damage to the liver
- Damage to surrounding arteries
How Can a Gallbladder Removal Mistake Happen?
There are many reasons that any surgery can go wrong, including gallbladder removal surgery. Some of these reasons are not the fault of the surgeon or other healthcare providers, but many avoidable mistakes and errors do occur.
Some of the most common reasons that mistakes and errors happen in gallbladder removal surgery include:
- The surgeon didn’t prepare well enough – Surgeons must be fully briefed ahead of any surgery, but this doesn’t always happen. Surgeons should be aware of and plan for any complications that might occur. They should make sure their surgical assistants have all the necessary tools the surgeon might need during the procedure.
- Failing to notice a surgical error – Despite their extensive skills and experience, surgeons are only human. Many surgical errors can be repaired with minimal harm if the doctor acts quickly, but the surgeon has to spot the error. If the error goes unnoticed, serious complications may occur, and emergency surgery may be needed.
- Communication errors – Doctors need to make sure patients, surgical assistants, and anyone else involved in a gallbladder surgery have all the necessary information to make the operation go smoothly. However, given the size of the team involved in such a surgery — the patient, their primary care doctor, nurses, anesthesiologists, surgical assistants, etc. — this can be a challenge. Many surgical errors are the end result of poor communication practices.
- Poor post-operative care and monitoring – Regular follow-up appointments are needed after gallbladder removal surgery to make sure the patient is healing properly. If the patient receives poor post-operative care or there’s too long of a delay before follow-up appointments, complications may go unnoticed until it’s too late.
- Fatigue – Surgeons often work long hours in situations that put intense pressure on their minds and bodies. If a surgeon or their staff isn’t well-rested before an operation, they’re much more likely to make a mistake.
- Haste – Sometimes doctors who perform a particular surgery, like a gallbladder removal surgery (called a cholecystectomy) simply become too comfortable performing the procedure and go too fast. When surgeons move too fast they run the risk of misidentifying the anatomy the surgeon is working with. That can cause the doctor to cut a common bile duct, a hepatic duct, or arteries that go to the liver or other organs.
- Inexperience – Everyone’s body is different, and sometimes that means that internal organs don’t match what the doctor expects to find when beginning a surgery. An inexperienced surgeon may not recognize aberrant or different anatomy when the surgeon encounters it, and, if the surgeon does not employ an alternative method of identifying the patient’s anatomy, the surgeon may cut the wrong anatomy during the gallbladder removal.
Ways a Surgeon Can Avoid Making a Gallbladder Removal Error
There are a number of things a surgeon can do to avoid making a gallbladder removal error. If the doctor runs into something unexpected, or if inflammation and scar tissue makes it difficult to properly identify a patient’s anatomy, the doctor can take a number of steps to ensure that he or she cuts the right anatomy and not the wrong anatomy, causing serious injury:
- Convert the surgery to an open surgery is laparoscopic surgery proves difficult
- Call in another surgeon to provide a second set of eyes and second opinion
- Perform an X-ray or other imaging of the patient’s anatomy to properly identify the patient’s anatomy
- Perform a partial gallbladder removal to avoid the risk of cutting a common or hepatic bile duct
Symptoms of Gallbladder Removal Malpractice
It’s important to be aware of your own health after having your gallbladder removed so you can tell when serious complications occur. Here are a few warning signs to watch out for:
- Swelling, bleeding, or redness from the incision site
- Pain in the area around the incision site
- Yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
- Cramps or other abdominal pain
- Chest pain
- Not having a bowel movement for three days