Gastric bypass is a type of bariatric surgery used to help obese patients reach a healthy body weight. Roux-en-Y laparoscopic gastric bypass, the most commonly performed type of gastric bypass in the United States, is considered one of the most difficult procedures to perform laparoscopically. If you've experienced complications following gastric bypass, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim.
About Gastric Bypass
Gastric bypass involves dividing the stomach into a small upper pouch and a larger lower "remnant" pouch before connecting both pouches to the small intestine. The surgery promotes weight loss by reducing the functional volume of the stomach.
When gastric bypass is effective, patients typically lose 70 to 80% of their excess body weight within the first year. However, it is common for patients to regain 10 to 20% of this weight in the first five years after surgery. Results will vary based on specific diet and exercise habits.
By promoting long-term weight loss, gastric bypass can help improve obesity-related medical problems such as type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and lower back pain.
Risks Associated With Gastric Bypass
All surgical procedures involve some degree of risk. The most common risks associated with gastric bypass include:
- Infection. Abdominal infections can result from incisions on the abdomen or inside of it. This can happen due to faulty technique, contaminated medical devices, and other errors.
- Anastomotic ulcer. The operation requires the doctor to create a connection between the stomach and bowel called the anastomosis. Ulcers can occur in this connection due to factors such as restricted blood supply or bacteria.
- Anastomotic leakage. If the anastomosis isn't sealed, it can release fluid from the gastrointestinal tract into the abdomen.
- Anastomotic stricture. When the anastomosis creates too much scar tissue, this can make it difficult for certain foods or liquids to pass through the body.
- Nutritional deficiencies. Gastric bypass surgery often impedes the body's ability to absorb calcium, iron, and other necessary nutrients.
Fatalities can result if complications aren't promptly identified and treated.
Poor Results Aren't Necessarily Malpractice
The most important thing to remember about gastric bypass surgery is that a poor result doesn't necessarily mean your doctor is guilty of malpractice. Patients often hope for a dramatic and rapid weight loss, but weight loss takes time even if all goes well during the surgery.
Medical malpractice involves the following four specific elements:
- Duty. The doctor was providing care to the patient in a professional capacity.
- Breach of duty. The doctor's actions constitute a deviation from the standard of care for the patient's condition.
- Damages. The patient suffered specific harm.
- Causation. The patient's damages were caused by the doctor's actions and can't be attributed to other factors.
Specific examples of actions that might constitute malpractice during gastric bypass surgery include:
- The doctor recommended you as a candidate for surgery despite knowing your history of heart disease, lung disease, or other chronic health problems that would increase your risk of complications.
- The doctor failed to obtain your informed consent for the procedure.
- The doctor performed the surgery incorrectly, resulting in digestive fluids and food leaking into your abdomen.
- The doctor failed to monitor you for infection and other complications after the surgery.
- You complained of pain, fever, or other symptoms of complications, and the doctor didn't perform the necessary tests to diagnose the cause of your condition in a timely manner.
Complications caused by your own failure to follow your doctor's orders and the post-surgical dietary requirements are not considered malpractice.
A malpractice claim is a type of civil action awarding you compensation for the specific damages you've suffered. For gastric bypass malpractice, this can include:
- Medical expenses related to treating complications such as the cost of additional surgery and hospital stays
- Lost wages from the time you were unable to work because of your condition
- Pain and suffering, including physical discomfort and the emotional impact of gastric bypass complications
To learn more, contact us online or call us today at 318.588.6303 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with the medical malpractice attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault.