A splenectomy is a surgical procedure used to partially or totally remove the spleen. A laparoscopic splenectomy uses a thin instrument with a camera and a "spotlight" called a laparoscope. Often, this is done on the fly in trauma cases. But people also get splenectomies for a variety of reasons: tumor or cyst growths, white blood cell count problems, and some blood diseases.
One common source of malpractice during a splenectomy is a lateral femoral cutaneous nerve injury. These injuries can occur when the patient has improper padding or positioning. The solution to this problem is an inflatable bean bag or something similar to ensure proper positioning. The importance of positioning is magnified in older and obese patients. The surgeon and the operating room staff have an obligation to ensure adequate padding and positioning of the patient.
Certainly, there is no malpractice every time there is a splenectomy. But as this surgery has become more commonplace, more surgeons are performing splenectomies who don't have the training to do so.
Sample Verdicts and Settlements
- 2012, Illinois: $7,522,032 Verdict. A man is receiving a laparoscopic splenectomy when one of the doctors perforates his duodenum and then fails to realize that it is severed. After surgery, the man begins to show symptoms of deterioration, such as respiratory distress and tachycardia. A few days later, an exploratory laparotomy is performed. The perforated duodenum goes unnoticed. Two days after this, the man is diagnosed with two perforations. He dies a few weeks later. His estate brings a claim, alleging that the doctors perforated the patient’s duodenum, failed to realize it, and then failed to repair it. A jury awarded him $7,522,032, which was later reduced to $6,000,000 due to a high/low agreement.
- 2010, Oklahoma: $120,617.19 Verdict: A male falls at home and is transported by ambulance to the ER, where he undergoes emergency surgery to remove his ruptured spleen. 10 hours later, a nurse notices that his right foot is edematous and blue when his previous records did not indicate swelling. He is then diagnosed with a Lisfranc fracture in his foot, which did not come from his fall. He files suit against the hospital, claiming that he was under the exclusive control of the hospital and its employees during his surgery and when the injury happened (doctrine of res ipsa loquitur). A judge awards him $120,617.19 in damages.
- 2009, Wisconsin: $17,300,000 Settlement: A six-year-old is suffering from a congenital problem in her spleen, so she undergoes a laparoscopic splenectomy. During the surgery, the doctor uses a tool that he does not have any training or experiencing with. He transects the patient’s aorta, partially cutting the vein carrying blood to her lower extremities, abdomen, and heart, and injuring her small bowel. She loses almost the total amount of blood in her body, goes into cardiac arrest, and suffers an anoxic brain injury during the procedure. She now has permanent brain damage, is unable to feed herself, and is confined to a wheelchair. The case settles before trial for $17,300,000.
Getting a Malpractice Attorney for Your Cut Nerve Case
Our malpractice lawyers handle surgical negligence cases, including claims of negligence during a splenectomy or that cause the need for a splenectomy. If you or a loved one sustained a serious injury as a result of an error or mistake during surgery, call our malpractice lawyers at 800-553-8082 or click here for a free online consultation.
- Splenectomy (video of procedure)
- Splenectomy Verdict in Wisconsin
- Cut medial nerve case in Maryland (not spleen related)
- Sample Expert Report (in a "cut the wrong thing" malpractice case)
- Medical Malpractice in Maryland (overview of medical malpractice claims in Maryland)
- Medical Malpractice Frequently Asked Questions (frequent victim questions)
- Valuing Malpractice Cases (what is the value of your potential malpractice lawsuit?)