Case details

Surgical resident negligently inserted trocar, patient claimed





Result type

Not present

abdomen, adhesions, bowel, colon, digestive, disfigurement, gastrointestinal, intestine, perforation, scar
On Feb. 9, 2012, plaintiff Dionne Licudine, 22, a senior college student at the University of Southern California, underwent a laparoscopic cholecystectomy for treatment of gallstones. The procedure was started by the attending physician, Dr. Brendan Carroll, and a fifth-year surgical resident, Dr. Ankur Gupta. During the first step of the common procedure, a Veress needle was inserted through the umbilicus to inflate the abdomen with carbon dioxide. A trocar was then inserted during the second step so that a camera could be placed to aid in the procedure. However, once the camera was inserted, an accumulation of blood was noted in the abdomen, which indicated a life threatening situation. As a result, Licudine’s procedure was converted to a laparotomy, and a vascular surgeon was called to do a repair. Licudine was subsequently left with abdominal adhesions and a scar. Licudine sued Carroll; Gupta; the hospital, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; and the sponsor of the Cedars-Sinai residency program through the University of California, Los Angeles, the Regents of the University of California. The Regents was ultimately dropped from the case and Carroll was dismissed in exchange for a stipulation that Cedars-Sinai was responsible for his negligence, if any. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Gupta negligently inserted the trocar into the retroperitoneal space such that it perforated the right iliac vein. Defense counsel argued that a perforation was a known complication of the procedure. Counsel also argued that Gupta was not negligent and had used sound medical judgment in inserting the trocar., Licudine suffered a perforation of the right iliac vein, requiring vascular repair surgery, which was performed by the plaintiff’s treating physician. As a result, she was in the Intensive Care Unit for one week and remained in the hospital for a total of 25 days. Licudine is left with a 6-inch scar that extends from her navel to her breastbone. She also claimed that may suffer from abdominal adhesions due to the puncture. Licudine, who was a senior college student at USC, was a coxswain on the rowing team. At the time of her injury, she was ranked number three nationally. Licudine was ultimately able to rejoin her teammates one month after the subject surgery and receive a victory in the San Diego Crew Classic. She was also nominated as USC’s female Trojan athlete of the year in 2012. In addition, Licudine was accepted at several law schools after graduating from USC, but she claimed her ongoing medical struggles have forced her to delay enrolling. She also claimed that her scar has caused severe emotional distress, as she was a young college student who often wore two-piece bathing suits for rowing activities and/or during recreation. Now, Licudine is 25 years old and has a life expectancy of another 57 years. However, she contended that due to her injury, she may one day suffer a complete bowel obstruction that would require more surgery. Defense counsel noted that Licudine offered no evidence as to her alleged loss of earnings and that the court declined to take judicial notice of median attorney income as being too speculative. In addition, the defense’s physical medicine and rehabilitation expert opined that there was no medical reason why Licudine could not attend and complete law school.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA

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