Larsen and Tomasik Secure Victory At Trial On Behalf of General Surgeon

Featuring Robert L. Larsen

Bob Larsen and T.J. Tomasik secured a victory in DuPage County on behalf of a general surgeon in a case where a patient experienced complication from an umbilical hernia repair with mesh, allegedly resulting in a bowel obstruction, second surgery, and bowel resection.

The evidence at trial established that the plaintiff/patient presented to the defendant/general surgeon for evaluation of an umbilical hernia he had lived with for 10 years. The defendant surgeon chose to perform a hernia repair with mesh and scheduled the procedure for May 27, 2014. The procedure went forward as planned, and the plaintiff was discharged from the hospital the same day of the surgery. Upon leaving the hospital, the plaintiff and his wife drove 2 and a half hours to their home in Central Illinois.

A little over 24 hours after the surgery, the plaintiff began vomiting, and went to a local ER. He was found to have an early bowel obstruction, and the downstate surgeon elected to treat the condition conservatively. After 6 days of conservative measures, the plaintiff’s condition worsened, and the healthcare team elected to perform an exploratory surgery to attempt to discover what was causing the bowel obstruction.

Upon exploration of the site where the hernia repair had been performed, it was discovered that a portion of the small intestine was adhered to the abdominal wall where the hernia mesh had been placed. Additionally, this portion of intestine had a suture that was used to place the mesh wrapped around the intestine, which in essence was choking the blood supply to the tissue. Ultimately, this portion of the intestines had to be surgically removed. 

At trial Plaintiff argued the defendant surgeon utilized an improper technique when placing the mesh. Specifically, Plaintiff claimed the surgeon failed to properly visualize where the small intestine was when he was stitching the mesh into place. Plaintiff further claimed the defendant stitched through a portion of the small intestine, causing it to be strangulated and resulting in the necessity of having this portion of the small intestine removed.

The defense argued the defendant surgeon’s technique was completely appropriate, and made it highly unlikely a stitch had been placed through the intestine.  Instead, the interoperative photos taken by the downstate surgeon showed the loop of bowel “lassoed” by a suture.  Accordingly, the defense argued that more likely than not the stitch became loose sometime after the procedure and entrapped the bowel, a somewhat rare complication, but one not resulting from any negligence. 

After a 4-day long trial, and just over 3 hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the Defendant general surgeon.