On June 23, 2014, a Georgia medical malpractice jury awarded $1.5 million to a 30-year-old man who suffered permanent, life-changing injuries as a result of negligently performed lap chole surgery. The man alleged that he suffered a severe ischemic injury to his femoral and sciatic nerves and has permanent neuropathic pain in his leg that precludes him from working, all as a result of his surgeon’s negligence.
What Is Lap Chole Surgery?
Lap chole is short for laparoscopic cholecystectomy, which is a surgical procedure whereby the gallbladder is removed from the body using laparoscopic techniques (minimally invasive surgery where a video camera and thin surgical instruments are inserted through ports into the body using small incisions; the video camera allows the surgeon to view the surgical field without using direct observation).
Laparoscopic surgery usually results in shorter recovery time, less pain and discomfort, shorter stays in the hospital, smaller scars, and the patient’s return to normal activities much sooner than with traditional open surgery.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is performed by making a half-inch incision around the belly button (umbilicus) and three additional one-quarter to half-inch incisions. Laparoscopic ports are then placed in all four incisions. A laparoscope is placed through the umbilicus port and long, thin surgical instruments are placed through the remaining three ports that are used to separate the gallbladder from where it is attached to the liver and the bile duct. The gallbladder is then removed from the body through one of the ports after which the ports are removed and the incisions are closed.
Lap chole surgery is considered very safe — the overall complication rate is less than 2% and is similar to the complication rate for open gallbladder surgery. A lap chole procedure may be converted to an open procedure if the surgeon finds excessive scarring or the anatomy of structures cannot be safely visualized — less than 5% of lap chole procedures are converted to open procedures.
The Alleged Georgia Medical Malpractice Facts
In September 2010, the Georgia man awoke with severe abdominal pain and was rushed to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with gallstones. He underwent a laparoscopic cholecystectomy that same day.
The surgeon who performed the lap chole negligently perforated the man’s right common iliac artery during the surgery, which the surgeon attempted to repair after converting to an open procedure. The repair attempt took about one hour. Despite the surgeon’s repair efforts, the man still did not have a pulse in his affected leg. Vascular surgeons were called but it took about one hour for the vascular surgeons to arrive from the main hospital to the satellite campus where the lap chole took place.
The two vascular surgeons worked for about seven hours to repair what turned out to be a through-and-through injury to the right common iliac artery and a puncture of the iliac vein. The lack of blood flow through the man’s leg for an extended period of time led to the man’s serious and permanent injuries.
If you or a loved one may have been injured due to medical negligence in Georgia or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Georgia medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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