Gallbladder surgery medical malpractice could be reduced with use of pre-op x-ray
Serious problems after gallbladder surgery are often caused by a medical error where the bile duct is mistakenly cut. This is one of the leading causes of medical malpractice lawsuits against general surgeons, yet many doctors do not do a simple x-ray which could reduce the gallbladder surgery risk by as much as 70%.
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Gallbladder surgery is a relatively common procedure. Every year about 750,000 people in the United States have their gallbladder removed. Unfortunately, recent estimates indicate that as many as 1 out of every 200 surgeries result in a bile duct injury. When the surgeon fails to properly identify the bile duct during laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, it could be cut. This mistake often leads to serious complications or even death for the patient who thought they were undergoing a surgery with minimal risks.
Studies indicate most surgical errors during gallbladder surgery which lead to a bile duct injury could be prevented if the doctor takes a special x-ray before the surgery to identify the location of the bile duct. However, only 20% of all patients receive the xray, known as a cholangiogram.
COMPLICATIONS AFTER GALLBLADDER SURGERY
Gallbladder surgery is a much less invasive procedure than it used to be, and most patients are able to go home from the hospital the same day as the surgery with no complications. In the past, removal of the gallbladder involved a large incision with several days of recuperation in the hospital. Today, medical instruments and a camera are inserted through small incisions which allow the physician to perform the surgery while watching a television monitor, and allow for a much quicker recovery for the patient.
Unfortunately, the less invasive method of removing the gallbladder has led to a significant increase in the number of duct injuries caused by negligent surgeons failing to identify the bile duct on the TV monitor. When the bile duct is cut, this leads to serious complications after gallbladder surgery. At a minimum, the gallbladder surgery malpractice will result in major reconstructive surgery. At worst, the bile can leak out causing a deadly infection.
A simple cholangiogram x-ray before gallbladder surgery takes approximately 10 minutes and allows the surgeon to identify the duct system to avoid cutting the bile duct. Although the x-ray only costs around $122, many physicians do not even offer it to patients. Several well known surgeons and medical societies have publicly stated that more physicians should perform the xray, yet many surgeons and health insurers have claimed it is an unnecessary expense.
According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, many surgeons are not properly trained in the technique and avoid doing it because they are not comfortable with it, even though it has been shown to save lives. Researchers who reviewed records for over 16 million medicare patients found that the gallbladder surgery risk could be reduced by up to 70% with use of the cholangiogram.
GALLBLADDER SURGERY MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAWSUITS
Most patients disagree with the position of health insurers and physicians who state that the x-ray is an unnecessary expense. Even if hundreds of cholangiograms must be performed to save one life, at $122 for each test, it would be money well spent. As a result of the less invasive laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, physicians are unable to visualize the duct system and human error or carelessness can lead to the misidentification of the bile duct on the TV monitor.
The medical costs associated with a bile duct injury often exceeds $50,000, and the impact it can have on the patients quality of life can be devastating. The medical malpractice lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. investigate surgical mistake lawsuits nationwide. To speak with a lawyer and review the circumstances surrounding a medical mistake, request a free consultation.