Marshall L. Schwartz and Brett M. Littman recently obtained a verdict on behalf of a surgeon and hospital in a four day jury trial involving allegations of negligence in the performance of a laparoscopic hernia repair.

This case involved a patient who first underwent surgery to remove a mass on her appendix, which was suspicious for malignancy. Several months after this surgery, the patient developed a hernia, which the defendant-surgeon planned to repair laparoscopically.

Plaintiff alleged that when the surgeon repaired the hernia, he negligently perforated her bowel with a harmonic scalpel, which is a device that uses high-frequency vibrations to generate heat and cut through tissue. Plaintiff further alleged that the surgeon failed to properly inspect the bowel for any signs of injury. This perforation caused an infection and required a prolonged recuperation.

The defense successfully argued that even though the surgeon perforated the bowel, any such injury was a recognized risk of the procedure and did not constitute negligence. In support of this argument, the defendants called an expert in laparoscopic surgery who corroborated this defense.

The jury ultimately found that the defendant was not negligent.