General surgeon ~ Gall bladder ~
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy ~ Post-operative complications ~
Standard of care ~ Rights 4(1), 4(5)
A 52-year-old man had a laparoscopic cholecystectomy performed
by a general surgeon who was employed as a short-term locum
consultant by a district health board (DHB). The man was returned
to theatre shortly after midnight as he had developed
complications, and during surgery, it was discovered that the
general surgeon had cut through the bowel wall rather than the gall
bladder wall. Despite further surgery, and transfer to the
intensive care unit, the man died a few days later.
It was held that the error was a serious technical error that
amounted to a severe departure from the normally accepted standard
of intra-operative care for a laparoscopic cholecystectomy patient.
The general surgeon was found to have breached Right 4(1).
The DHB's failure was held as a severe departure from the
normally accepted standard. The clinical team failed to respond
appropriately to the man's worsening postoperative condition. In
these circumstances, the DHB breached Rights 4(1) and 4(5).
The general surgeon was referred to the Director of Proceedings.
The Director decided not to issue proceedings before the Health
Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.