Malpractice Liability for Gastric Bypass Mistakes

Even though gastric bypass surgery is an elective procedure, patients can hold their doctor or medical provider liable for malpractice in the event of a serious error.

With the increase in elective gastric bypass surgery has come in increase in medical malpractice cases associated with these procedures. While most often an elective procedure designed to facilitate weight loss, gastric bypass surgery still comes with a certain standard of care that surgeons must adhere to. Read on to learn more about gastric bypass malpractice.

Malpractice or Just a Poor Result?

Gastric bypass patients normally expect immediate and drastic weight loss. After all, they are going to extreme lengths to facilitate slimming down. When a patient is unhappy with the results of the procedure, they often seek to blame the surgeon for the poor result. In reality, gastric bypass surgery can be unsuccessful absent any type of malpractice.

If you have had gastric bypass surgery and believe you may have been the victim of malpractice, you need to have an open and honest conversation with your doctors about what, exactly, you believe went wrong. Before you talk to a lawyer, you need to have a sense of whether your doctor committed medical negligence or the procedure simply didn’t work.

For example, if you failed to follow doctors’ orders after the procedure and you ended up with an infection or a pulmonary embolism, that may be your fault and not the result of any negligence during the procedure. Of course, that's not to suggest you assume that complications arising from your gastric bypass are your fault. Gastric bypass malpractice does happen. Second opinions and conversations with an attorney will help you decide whether to pursue a malpractice claim of simply accept that the surgery was performed properly but yielded a poor result.

Common Types of Gastric Bypass Malpractice

There are several common scenarios that usually result from gastric bypass malpractice. If you have preexisting health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or other problems, your doctor may be guilty of malpractice if he or she recommends you as a candidate for a gastric bypass in spite of these risks. Gastric bypass surgery is not for everyone, and your doctor is legally obligated to investigate the viability of your candidacy for the procedure.

Leakage is very often a sign that the procedure was performed incorrectly. Gastric bypass surgery involves cutting the stomach to create a smaller pouch in which to deposit food. If your stomach is not properly reconstructed during the gastric bypass surgery, digestive fluids and food can leak into your abdomen causing countless problems, including serious and potentially fatal infections. Your surgeon has a duty to perform the gastric bypass surgery in a non-negligent manner, which means that no leakage should be present.

While leakage, in and of itself, may not always be malpractice, the failure to diagnose or treat leakage could be. Even if you somehow caused the leakage yourself, your doctor has a duty to identify that the leakage is occurring and ensure that the proper course of treatment is undertaken. If you report symptoms of fever, abdominal pain or other potential indicators of leakage to your surgeon and no action is taken to determine whether there is leakage, you may have a valid gastric bypass malpractice claim for failure to diagnose.

(See Surgery Errors That Lead To Malpractice Claims for more on surgical malpractice claims.)

Other complications that could be indicative of malpractice are the development of post-surgery gallstones, pulmonary embolisms, excessive pain, kidney stones, difficulty breathing and problems with blood clotting. Again, while none of these conditions are exclusively indicative of malpractice, negligence could be the cause of any and all of them.

(For more on liability for post-operative complications, see Medical Negligence in Post-Operative Treatment.)

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