OOPS with gallbladder removal

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Regular Member

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 69
   Posted 9/24/2008 7:46 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi!!  I haven't posted here in almost a year.  I still read all the posts because they are a great comfort (not that we are all sick, but) to see that I am not alone!!  A week this friday i went in to have my gallbladder removed.  The surgeon said he would try to remove it laporscopally but if he ran into to much scar tissue he would have to cut me.  A little about me--i have crohn's disease, dx 20 years ago, had a full rectal removal and now sport a beautiful colostomy since 1996.  Last dec. had ostomy hernia removed.  Crohn's has been going crazy--even on the remicade but 3 weeks ago I had my first gallbladder attack.  Wow  i thought labor was bad!!  Had an ultrasound they found two large gallstones in the gallbladder with thickening of the gallbladder wall.  Dr. said it needed to come out.  So, back to the surgery--the surgeon said he had the surgery done 80% laporospically when he knicked my small intestine!  Of all organs for him to hit.  They then had to cut me open, sew up the intestine and pull out the gallbladder.  Now I am sitting here with staples all over my belly and worrying about my crohn's!!  I had asked the surgeon if he thought that when the intestine heels will the scar tissue cause a problem.  He told me that my small intestine is allready full of scar tissue.(so did he mean whats the difference).  Has anyone out there had anything similiar happen to them.  What are your oppionions?  I actually had two nurses in the hospital tell me to sue!!  That is the farthest thing from my mind right now!!  I can't really talk to my gastro about this because they are friends and I'm sure they protect one another.  Any opionions would be sooo helpful!!  Claire

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 1169
   Posted 9/24/2008 7:58 AM (GMT -7)   
Well a couple of observations -- almost all gall bladder surgeries start out as lap procedures, but some have to go to open incisions for a variety of reasons, such as stones in the common bile duct that can't be reached any other way. In your case a "nick" of the small bowel had to be repaired, but that is not a disability-producing complication (like tying off a vein that causes you to lose a limb for example.) And as the surgeon said, your small bowel has been home to longstanding Crohns disease which has already done far more damage than a small nick and a couple of stitches. Kind of like getting upset at brushing the curb in a car with old bald patched tires . . . of course people can and do sue for all sorts of reasons, but in the real world, justified suits are (or ought to be) limited to cases of genuine harmful malpractice that cause long term or permanent disabilty, not to a fairly common minor surgical incident that can be (and was) easily corrected. In your case I'd be glad the gall bladder is gone and that you are healing fine. It's unlikely to have any positive or negative impact on your Crohns anyway.

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2003
Total Posts : 9448
   Posted 9/24/2008 8:03 AM (GMT -7)   
Pooh happens. BUT when not just one but TWO nurses suggest that you sue .... nurses are sticking their neck out when they make a comment like that to you. Evidently the surgeon did something OBVIOUSLY wrong and not according to protocol - or the nurses were incredibly stupid to say anything.

On the other hand .... unless permanent damage of some type is done ... its pretty darn hard to even get an ethical lawyer to take such a case. It HAS to be financially worthwhile for them to do so and w/o some type of obvious or permanent damage being done .... its probably not worth the aggravation.

On the other hand, you could request IN WRITING copies of the ENTIRE surgical procedure records including nurse's notes. Just to shake the surgeon up a bit and rattle the hospital's chain. But expect it to COST you to do so. And probably make them leery of treating you in the future even if you take no action.
Some people are like Slinkies... Not really good for anything, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 1830
   Posted 9/24/2008 8:57 AM (GMT -7)   
To add to C2's post, can you get your primary to request those records?

Sorry you've been through all of this. Take care & let us know how things progress.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 4527
   Posted 9/24/2008 4:10 PM (GMT -7)   
Sure hope you feel better soon and I can understand your worry but hoping things heal up nicely. lol gail
Hallarious woman over 50 ,CD ,IBS 27 years--resection,fistula's,obstructions,and still alive.lol gail

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2003
Total Posts : 6130
   Posted 9/24/2008 4:21 PM (GMT -7)   
if you decide a lawsuit is needed down the road or not, the prudent thing to do is to get copies of all the records of your hospital stay and the OP notes. things may dissapear in time... i doubt anything will come of your little nick. however getting the records will tell you just how big the nick was, 1/8 of and inch or 2 inches. one thing i would watch for is getting billed for the "extra" work that was done. that should be on the dr methinks! you know like a couple extra hospital days, extra xrays etc..


Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 9/24/2008 5:36 PM (GMT -7)   
Try to find out the statute of limitations in your state for medical malpractice that way you know how long you have to decide whether or not to pursue legal action. I agree with the others that if you don't have any problems from the nick it wouldn't be worth the trouble. But if you start to develop problems it might just be worth it.
26 Year old married female law student (last year!!). Diagnosed w/ CD 4 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD. I am sort of lactose intollerant too but can handle anything cultured and do well w/ lactose pills and lactaid. For crohns I am currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day and hysociamine prn. I also have bad acid reflux and have been on PPI's since age 13. I have been through prilosec, prevacid, and nexium. Currently I am on Protonix in the morning and Zantac at night. I also take a birth control pill to allow some fun in my life.

Elite Member

Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 10404
   Posted 9/24/2008 5:44 PM (GMT -7)   
Ouch. (((Claire)))
Co-Moderator Crohn's Forum.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 1522
   Posted 9/24/2008 6:28 PM (GMT -7)   
My cousin had the same thing happen except that the doc didn't notice the nick. He closed her back up and sent her home. They ignored her when she complained of pain. She ended up back in the hospital and he still insisted she was fine for 3 more days.

She ended up almost dying, had part of her intestine removed, had a colostomy for months, and has continuing problems even after getting put back together. It will affect her for the rest of her life. She's a beautiful young woman with serious abdominal scars and uncontrolled D that causes frequent accidents.

During the lawsuit, she discovered that the doc had a history of accidental nicks. She was not the first patient he ignored, nor was she the only patient suing. She didn't know anything about this before her botched surgery.

I wonder if the nurses suggested you sue because this is a pattern they want to stop. An occasional nick is just a hazard of surgery but if it happens often, it's a problem with the surgeon.

ski bum
Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 451
   Posted 9/24/2008 6:49 PM (GMT -7)   
Claire - that's a bummer you ended up being one of the unlucky ones who had a complication during surgery. But, on the positive side, the injury to the small bowel was found at the time of surgery and repaired timely. The consent form you signed most likely indicated there was a risk of injury to an organ during the surgery. I have defended many lawsuits involving an injury to the bowel, but the suits are only brought (in my experience) when the injury goes undetected during surgery, the patient is closed and goes on to develop sepsis and has to undergo surgery after to surgery to clear the infection. (Like Dagger's cousin). Even if that happens, it's not necessarily negligence. If the doctor documents that the bowel was checked thoroughly and no injury was detected, then he/she may have met the standard of care. The nurses' comments are suspicious though. The statute of limitations in Michigan is two years on a medical malpractice claim. You can use google to find the statute of limitations that would apply in your case or findlaw.com. If it's two years, that gives you plenty of time to recuperate and heal and only think about contacting an attorney if you have problems in the next year. I hope that's not necessary. Take care. SB
50 y/o F. CD dx'd Aug 05. Initially on Pentasa, then Imuran 125 mg. Started Humira (very reluctantly) on 10/24/07. Ileocolectomy 4/08.

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 69
   Posted 9/25/2008 4:40 AM (GMT -7)   
thanks for all the reply's but I feel I led everyone on the wrong track. I have no intention of suing the surgeon-I knew there is a chance with any surgery. My concern with the mees up is the small intestine. I am afraid that it will cause more problems now than ever before. When this heals will it cause a bowel stricture? Our intestines are scarred enough from this D--is this just going to add to it? (Believe me I could use the money if I won a lawsuit but I honestly don't think I could face my surgeon in court. He was genuinely sorry and He is a nice guy!! I told him next time no going out for cocktails before my procedure--he didn't know if he should laugh or cry - I got him to laugh!!) Thanks again, Claire
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