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Franklin County, PA

This case involved a 49-year-old woman, who suffered a bile duct injury during a laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery performed by the defendant surgeon in October, ________. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant surgeon was negligent in misreading an intraoperative cholangiogram (imaging of the bile duct) and cutting and dividing a duct without identifying it, causing injury to one of the plaintiff’s major hepatic ducts. The defendant contended that the plaintiff’s surgery was performed within the standard of care and that duct injuries are a known complication of the procedure performed, given variations in human anatomy. The defendant doctor’s surgical practice group was also named as a defendant in the case on a vicarious liability theory.

Evidence showed that the defendant surgeon performed an intraoperative cholangiogram, which he read as normal. The defendant then clipped and divided the cystic duct and proceeded to dissect the gallbladder, at which time he discovered another small duct near the neck of the gallbladder. The defendant then clipped and divided the second duct in order to remove the gallbladder.

The plaintiff returned to the hospital with pain several days after discharge and a bile leak was diagnosed. The plaintiff was transferred to another facility where a Roux repair of the right anterior sectoral duct was performed. The plaintiff was discharged in December ________. The plaintiff’s experts opined that the defendant surgeon failed to identify the right anterior sectoral duct and negligently damaged it during the surgery.

The defendant testified that he called in a partner to review the plaintiff’s cholangiogram during the surgery, and his partner confirmed that the cholangiogram appeared normal. The defense argued that it was within the standard of care to divide the second duct without identifying it because the gallbladder had to come out and because a small duct in that area is generally not a major duct. It was further argued that often these aberrant type ducts are sacrificed intraoperatively and heal without sequelae. The defense contended that it was a rare abnormality for the right anterior sectoral duct to join the gallbladder alone instead of joining the other major hepatic ducts to form the common hepatic duct.The jury found that the defendants were not negligent. The plaintiff’s post-trial motions are pending.

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