Bariatric surgery has become a common weight loss method for patients suffering morbid obesity, which is generally considered to be represented by a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher. However, with increased BMI comes the possibility of increased complications. Many surgeons will seek to reduce the risk by having prospective patients lose weight first before placing them under the knife.
There are other complications that are possible with bariatric surgery, and at one time it was considered to be a high risk procedure. However, new research from a team of specialists headed by a prestigious clinical scholar from the Cleveland Clinic has revealed these complication rates are not significantly higher than any other surgical procedure and that the risk-to-benefit ratio between gastric bypass and conditions like obesity and diabetes.
Bariatric Surgery Malpractice
However, there are still all too many instances of medical negligence in bariatric surgeries, likely exacerbated by the increasing number of procedures being done in the US. With the rapid advancement in the procedure’s popularity over just a few short decades, some concerns have been raised that surgeons may not have sufficient experience in performing bypasses but have decided to begin performing them despite this. This has led to patients of surgeons with less than 100 bariatric surgeries under their belt have a much higher incidence rate of complications – up to and including death – when compared to patients that received their gastric bypass from a much more experienced surgeon.
Some of the more dangerous conditions that can arise from poorly performed bariatric surgeries include internal bleeding, pulmonary embolisms, or gastric fluid leakage. If an inexperienced surgeon doesn’t realize that their bariatric patient is suffering from gastric leakage or internal bleeding, especially into their abdominal cavity, the injuries that a patient could sustain are highly serious, but this pales in comparison to the risks posed by pulmonary embolisms. These blockages of the pulmonary artery, which can occur either during the surgery or directly afterwards by a free-floating and detached blood clot, are highly dangerous and could easily lead to death if they’re not treated properly.
Bariatric surgery malpractice, such as any other form of medical negligence, needs to be proven in a court of law before the surgeon can be held responsible for whatever actions – or inaction – led to the situation in the first place. Evidence that the surgeon had a duty of care to the patient, that he or she failed in that duty to care, and that failure is the cause of the injury or death of the patient. Once these conditions are met to the satisfaction of a judge or a jury, a malpractice trial will typically be decided in favor of the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s surviving family.
However, few malpractice lawsuits will actually go to trial. It’s much more likely that a defendant named in a lawsuit will offer an out of court settlement reward to a plaintiff, especially if they have a solid case against the defendant. These settlements can typically be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or even more for particularly egregious injuries.