Rhode Island Woman Awarded Over $2M After Surgery Left Her With Sliced Bile Duct

A Rhode Island woman was awarded over $2 million after a 2014 surgery to remove her gallbladder went terribly wrong and left bile leaking into her abdomen.

During a civil trial before the Rhode Island Superior Court on Thursday, September 23 a jury found that Dr. Brian K. Reed and Kent Hospital had been negligent in the care of Ashley M. Vickers, The Providence Journal reported.

Judge Stephen P. Nugent awarded $1.3 million to Vickers, who suffered a sliced bile duct and had to have her internal organs reconstructed following the operation, which was increased to $2.136 million when interest was factored in.

Vickers, who is now 33, had visited the emergency room at Kent Hospital on January 28, 2014, complaining of abdominal pain. After being diagnosed with gallstones she was referred to Reed, who was the hospital general surgeon at the time.

He advised she undergo laparoscopic surgery to remove her gallbladder.

The surgery was performed on February 3, 2014 and Vickers was dismissed on the same day. She returned to Kent Hospital, operated by Care New England, on February 4 when she began to bleed at the incision. Her sutures were replaced and she was dismissed again.

When Vickers' pain returned during the following weeks she revised the hospital again and was transferred to Rhode Island Hospital when it was discovered that bile was leaking into her abdominal cavity.

During the course of the following months it was discovered that Vickers had a sliced bile duct that was leaking into her abdomen, says the paper.

Damage to bile ducts is one of the most concerning complications that can arise from laparoscopic surgeries. The Cleveland Clinic estimates that complications arise once in every 1,100 surgeries. During these surgical procedures, it is possible for bile ducts to be cut, sliced, or even burned.

These injuries can lead to bile leaking into the abdomen and causing pain, inflammation, and infection. In addition to this, a damaged bile duct can also affect digestion as bile is not being delivered to the stomach where it can break down fats in consumed foods.

One of the other functions of bile, which is created in the liver and then stored in the gallbladder, is also the removal of toxins, meaning infection can result from its failure to flow.

For Vickers, the damage to her bile duct resulted in her having to drink bile to ensure lost bile was replaced, The Providence Journal said. This continued over the course of two months as Vickers awaited surgical reconstruction of her internal organs, which included the cutting and rerouting of her small intestine.

Following an injury to the bile duct, further complications can be caused by the development of scar tissue narrowing the flow of bile and causing it to back up in the liver.

Vickers' lawyer Michael P. Quinn Jr. wrote that the possibility of these factors affects his client's future: "Today, her abdomen is now a completely altered system of scar tissue and changed anatomy, and she carries risk into the future."

Reed joined Kent Hospital in 2014 after leaving his role as department head of general and urologic surgery at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, North Carolina, The Warwick Beacon reported in April of that year.

During his time in the Navy, Reed had served as a combat surgeon in Afghanistan in support of "Operation Enduring Freedom."

The Department of Health told The Providence Journal that Reed is no longer licensed to practice in Rhode Island.

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A stock image shows surgeons at work. A woman was awarded $1.3 million for medical negligence that saw her suffer a cut bile duct. Getty Images