Gastric Bypass Lawyer
Severe obesity is a chronic condition that can be difficult to treat. Gastric bypass surgery (also known as gastrointestinal or bariatric surgery) is becoming a more popular option for people who are severely overweight and have been unsuccessful losing weight by other means. In 2008, it is estimated that 200,000 Americans had this surgery. This is twenty times the number of patients who had this surgery in 1992.
Unfortunately, the popularity of gastrointestinal surgery comes at a price. Complications due to and errors made during such surgery can lead to long-term health problems or even death. If you or a loved one has suffering from such complications, contact a Washington gastric bypass surgery lawyer at Fuller & Fuller by calling 800-570-4878.
Gastric Bypass Surgery Background
The use of gastrointestinal surgery to manage obesity came from observation of the results of operations for cancer or severe ulcers wherein large portions of the stomach or small intestine were removed. Patients undergoing these procedures usually lost weight after surgery and doctors began to use these operations to treat severe obesity.
The first operation that was widely used for severe obesity was the intestinal bypass. This operation, first used 40 years ago, produced weight loss by restricting the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Patients could eat large amounts of food, which would then be inadequately digested or passed through too rapidly for the body to absorb significant calories. The problem with this surgery was that it caused a loss of essential nutrients and its side effects were unpredictable and sometimes fatal.
Types of Surgery to Promote Weight Loss
There are two basic categories of surgery for controlling obesity. They are known as restrictive operations and malabsorptive operations. Restrictive operations include Adjustable Gastric Banding and Vertical Banded Gastroplasty. In these procedures, the goal is to reduce the available volume of the stomach. The small stomach size restricts how much food the patient can consume.
The malabsorptive operations include Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass and Biliopancreatic Diversion. In addition to reducing the capacity of the stomach, these operations bypass a portion of the small intestine. This procedure has the effect of reducing the amount of nutrients the intestines can absorb, simply because the food is not in the intestine long enough to accomplish the process.
Either of these two categories of surgery may be conducted via open abdominal surgery or by laparoscopic surgery, where the incisions are small. The protocol used will depend largely on the preference of the surgeon performing the procedure.
Complications of Gastrointestinal Surgery
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly 1 in 5 patients who have weight-loss surgery may require further operations to correct complications. Abdominal hernia and gastric leakage are among the most common complications requiring follow-up surgery. Gastric leakage can cause heart problems, abdominal infection and even death. Less common complications include tearing of the stomach tissue around the area of the surgery and subsequent leaking. The mortality rate for the initial operation is one in three hundred patients. The mortality rate is even higher for those patients who have follow-up operations.
Also, nearly 30 percent of weight-loss surgery patients go on to develop nutritional deficiencies such as anemia, osteoporosis, and metabolic bone disease. Some obese patients who have weight-loss surgery develop gallstones.
Role of Your Healthcare Professional
Gastrointestinal surgery to control obesity should only be used as a last resort for patients who are morbidly obese and have undergone all other available treatments. Your doctor should ensure all other forms of treatment have been thoroughly exhausted prior to recommending surgery. Once it becomes clear that surgery is a possible option, the doctor must ensure the patient clearly understands the risks associated with the treatment.
The doctor must also ensure the patient understands how the surgery will dramatically change the patient’s life. Gastrointestinal surgery to control obesity must be combined with changes to the diet and exercise habits of the patient to ensure maximum benefit and continued good health.
Malpractice in Gastrointestinal Weight Loss Surgery
Surgery to control obesity is complex. Due to its increasing popularity, more and more doctors are performing these operations. Significant numbers of operations are performed by doctors who have very little experience in the procedures. Malpractice arising from gastric bypass operations can include:
- Failing to perform the operation properly, resulting in further complications;
- Performing the surgery on less-than-morbidly obese patients;
- Failing to recognize a complication resulting from the initial operation;
- Failing to act appropriately upon a complication;
- Failing to perform a follow-up operation properly.
The number of various problems that can be encountered during the surgery and recovery are significant. The International Bariatric Surgery Registry lists almost 30 different types of complications associated with this type of surgery. The list includes ulcers, internal hemorrhaging, bowel obstructions and respiratory arrest. Several of the complications listed can also lead to death.
If I Suspect Weight Loss Surgery Malpractice, What are My Options?
If you have concerns or doubts about whether a doctor properly performed your or a loved one’s bypass surgery or failed to address complications associated with your weight loss surgery, we can help. Contact a Washington weight loss surgery attorney at Fuller & Fuller for a FREE consultation by dialing 800-570-4878.
To determine whether you have a strong claim, these are among the factors that are analyzed:
- Whether the malpractice took place within the time allowed to bring a claim, or whether it is barred by the statute of limitations;
- Whether the doctor’s actions were reasonable by the standards of the medical community in which the doctor practices;
- Whether the doctor failed to administer the necessary medical or surgical procedures;
- Whether the doctor was sufficiently experienced in this type of procedure;
- How much money in damages would be appropriate to compensate the patient, or the patient’s spouse or family members.
Fuller & Fuller represents victims of weight loss surgery malpractice. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or health problems due to incorrectly performed gastric bypass surgery, contact a Washington gastric bypass lawyer at Fuller & Fuller by calling 800-570-4878 for a consultation.
Gastrointestinal Weight Loss Surgery Resources
You may find some of the following links helpful. Fuller & Fuller does not endorse the information in the links.