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Surgeon cut common bile duct instead of cystic duct – $750,000 Verdict

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//January 10, 2014

Surgeon cut common bile duct instead of cystic duct – $750,000 Verdict

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//January 10, 2014

Plaintiff was admitted to Winchester Medical Center on Aug. 13, 2010, for a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The defendant identified the gallbladder and grasped it by its fundus. The gallbladder was retracted in a cephalad direction and a second grasper was then used to retract the infundibulum laterally. The defendant dissected around the triangle of Calot and what was thought to be the cystic duct was identified. The tubular structure was dissected free of its surrounding tissues circumferentially and was clipped proximally and distally and then divided. The defendant did not completely dissect the triangle of Calot or identify the cystic artery prior to clipping and cutting what he believed to be plaintiff’s cystic duct. The defendant then further dissected within the triangle of Calot, which revealed a second tubular structure coursing posteriorly towards the hilum of the liver. This structure appeared to join the cystic duct just proximal to the surgical clip. The defendant feared at this point that this represented a transection of the common bile duct, which was confirmed by an intraoperative cholangiogram. The structure the defendant divided and believed to be plaintiff’s cystic duct was, in fact, the common bile duct.

Plaintiff was transferred the same day to U.Va. Medical Center for a repair surgery. While at U.Va., the plaintiff had a Roux-en-Y hepaticojejunostomy performed. Plaintiff spent a week in the hospital after the repair surgery.

For the next eight months, the plaintiff was in and out of the hospital with two strictures and at least three bouts of cholangitis.

Plaintiff required PTC drain placement and multiple balloon dilations. Plaintiff also had an external drain and bag placed which she had to carry around with her for four months. After the external drain was removed, the plaintiff did not have any more complications until two years later. In 2013, plaintiff had another stricture and cholangitis infection. Plaintiff’s experts testified that plaintiff was at continued risk in the future for more bouts of cholangitis.


Type of action: Medical malpractice
Injuries alleged: Common bile duct transection
Court: Winchester Circuit Court
Tried before: Jury
Judge: John Wetsel
Date: Nov. 6, 2013
Special damages: Medical bills – $173,821.08; lost wages – $10,000
Demand: $1,250,000
Offer: None
Verdict or settlement: Verdict
Amount: $750,000
Attorneys for plaintiff: Charles J. Zauzig III and Melissa G. Ray, Woodbridge
Plaintiff’s experts: Aaron Chevinsky, M.D.; Kelly Wright, M.D.

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