Injury to Hepatic Bile Duct

By Michael Zerres

Where to Repair Makes a Difference

The recent decision in Paz v. Grasso, decided 6-15-06, points out something many medical malpractice lawyers have known for some time: not all NJ hospitals are equipped to provide care at a level that can be provided in NYC or Philadelphia. In Paz, the patient underwent a lap-choly procedure and afterwards began vomiting bile. Follow-up testing revealed a blockage/interruption of the hepatic bile duct, which had been accidentally damaged during the lap-choly. It appeared to the patient’s doctor that the lower half of the duct was obstructed and he attempted a repair. After 6 hours of surgery, it was determined that the damage to the hepatic duct was higher than expected and Ms. Paz had to be transferred to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in NY, where they could perform such surgery. (As it turned out, Dr. Grasso did not have the expertise to perform surgery on the upper-half of the hepatic bile duct, nor did Palisades General Hospital [where the patient was admitted] have the resources necessary to perform such a surgery.) Fortunately for Ms. Paz, the third surgery performed at Columbia-Presbyterian was successful, but unfortunately…her claim that Dr. Grasso committed malpractice…as the jury later determined…was not.

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