Gallstones and the Bile Duct Medical Negligence Solicitors

Gallstones and the Bile Duct Medical Negligence Solicitors

Read our advice about gallstones claims

Our friendly team of specialist lawyers at Medical Solicitors have the expertise to help you succeed in a medical negligence claim for substandard care of gallstone problems.

Compensation can be claimed where there has been inappropriate advice given concerning which treatment you should have, or where there has been excessive delay in care being provided, or substandard surgical care that amounts to actual Medical Negligence. 

Do contact our friendly team of specialist lawyers at Medical Solicitors. We conduct most of our Clinical and Medical Negligence claims under ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreements, also known as Conditional Fee Agreements. So,  our clients do not have to worry about how they can possibyl afford the costs of paying for gallstone compensation claims. You have nothing to lose in speaking to us.

Information about Gallstones

Gallstones are a common problem, more so for women and the elderly, and some risk factors are obesity, cholesterol lowering medication, rapid weight loss and diabetes. About 80% of people experience no symptoms and can live with gallstones but others can experience pain in the upper abdomen and back, vomiting, bloating, indigestion and gas.

There are various investigations that can be undertaken such as ultrasound and imaging (x-ray, CT and MRI) to detect gallstones, blood tests to check for signs of infection and obstruction caused by stones, and to rule out other conditions.

MRCP – magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography – this is a non-invasive test involving an MRI scanner to check for abnormalities in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, pancreas and pancreatic duct. The dye may be given during the scan. This is less invasive than the alternative test, ERCP.

ERCP” (Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography):

The doctor inserts an endoscope through the patient’s mouth down to the small intestine and injects a dye to help visualise the bile ducts. The doctor can then remove gallstones that have moved into the ducts.

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy (“keyhole surgery”)

During this procedure, instruments and a light and a camera are passed through several small incisions in the abdomen. The surgeon views the inside of the body by looking at a video monitor. This procedure is used in approximately 90% of gall bladder removals. After the surgery, the patient spends the night in the hospital.

Open cholecystectomy

This is a more invasive procedure in which the surgeon makes incisions in the abdomen to remove the gall bladder. The patient stays in the hospital for a few days after the surgery.

If gallstones are in the bile ducts, ERCP may be used to find and remove them before or during gall bladder surgery.

If you have a medical condition that prevents gallstone surgery, medication that can dissolves cholesterol stones. Mild diarrhoea is a side effect of these medicines. However, you may have to take the medicine for years to completely dissolve the stones and the stones may come back.

Another option is extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy, in which high-energy sound waves are used to shatter gallstones into small fragments that may then be responsive to dissolving medicines, or may pass out of the bile ducts into the intestine where the fragments can leave the body with other waste products.

In the vast majority of cases, gall bladder surgery is successful, but sometimes patients end up with a bile duct leak which can cause long terms problems if it is not recognised quickly enough and treated.

Delay in diagnosis and treatment

Whilst bile duct injury can be a known complication of such surgery, it is often the delay in diagnosing and treating the bile duct injury which is negligent.

What is a bile duct injury?

Bile duct injuries are damage to the bile ducts that happen during gallbladder surgery. A bile duct can get cut, burned, or pinched. As a result of an injury, the bile duct will not be able to work right, leaking bile into the abdomen or blocking the normal flow of bile. Bile duct injuries lead to symptoms that can be painful, even deadly, if not treated.

What causes bile duct injuries during surgery?

Most bile duct injuries that occur during gallbladder surgery happen because the area around the gallbladder and bile ducts is masked in some way so that the doctor cannot see it clearly. This can happen if the area’s structure (anatomy) is different than normal, or if there is a lot of bleeding, swelling, or scarring in the area.

How common are bile duct injuries during surgery?

The numbers vary by study. Some estimate that bile duct injuries occur in one in 1,000 cases of laparoscopic gallbladder surgery. They occur less often in open surgeries.

How do I know if my bile duct of damaged?

Some bile duct injuries are found by the doctor at the time of surgery. If not, the first sign of a bile duct injury is failing to recover quickly after the procedure. Other symptoms might include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • General discomfort
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes)

Real Past Cases

A Six-figure sum was recovered by one of our specialist solicitors, Miriam Bi, for a client who sadly lost his wife due to delays in recognising damage to her bile duct after gall bladder surgery. Following her surgery in June 2017, she was discharged home the following day, despite complaints of not feeling well with abdominal pain and vomiting. We alleged, and it was admitted, that she should not have been discharged. She developed sepsis and multiple organ failure which led to her death nearly a month after the surgery, aged only 58. In this case, we assisted the family through the Inquest process which was emotionally distressing for them. A Letter of Claim was served setting out various failures in the case, most of which were subsequently admitted, including causation of death. Compensation was recovered for the loss of his wife, funeral expenses, the loss of past and future services she provided, as well as the financial loss suffered by her widower. There were also claims relating to the loss of the Deceased’s childcare support with grandchildren.

£825,000 in the case of AB v Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 2019 for a 79-year-old lady who suffered bilary sepsis and a blocked common bile duct stent in August 2013. It was alleged that there was a failure to warn her about the risks of undergoing ERCP, a failure to discuss alternative surgical options with a consultant hepatobiliary surgeon, failing to arrange a follow-up appointment within 4 to 6 weeks after the ERCP procedure, failing to make her aware that only partial clearance of bile stones had been achieved, failing to take steps to prevent sepsis occurring, failure to arrange a further urgent ERCP and using long-term stenting of the bile duct from 2004 onwards rather than as a temporary measure for a few weeks, before she underwent definitive surgery. Liability was not admitted. She underwent a below knee amputation and partial amputation of her fingers and toes, due to sepsis. She required a prosthesis, a wheelchair or mobility scooter and alternative accommodation as she was no longer able to live in her existing property. Due to her disabilities she required additional help with her personal care and household chores.

£200,000 to a lady who suffered damage to her common hepatic duct during surgery to remove gall-stones and the error went unnoticed making the injury impossible to repair properly, leaving her needing multiple further operations, suffering from repeated infections and unable to return to her previous work

Follow our links below to quickly access our information pages about how we can help with: a complaint about care, funding a medical negligence claim relating to the treatment of gallstones and more:

Contact our Gallstones Medical & Clinical Negligence Claims Lawyers

We provide urgent legal advice and support for patients anywhere in England & Wales. We have doctors and barristers located all over the UK, who provide us with meeting facilities, in London, Birmingham, Sheffield, Yorkshire, Oxford, Manchester, Leeds, Hull, Liverpool, Newcastle and beyond. Our team will travel to see clients. We think it best to see our clients in the comfort of their own home over a cup of tea. You are not a number to us. Call or email our friendly team free of charge for specialist legal advice on a no win no fee basis today.

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