As the problems of weight and obesity have grown in America, so have the surgical options to help address them. There are three popular procedures of bariatric weight loss surgery: gastric bands (lap bands), gastric sleeves (sleeve gastrectomy), and biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (BPD/DS).
The safest surgical option is considered the vertical sleeve gastrectomy, which involves stapling and surgically removing over 85% of the patient’s stomach. The remaining part of the patient’s stomach is long and narrow, looking like a shirt sleeve, which explains the procedure’s name.
A gastric sleeve works by reducing the size of the stomach and, thus, the volume of food that it can accommodate. The procedure doesn’t involve making any changes to the intestines, so the method of weight loss for this surgery focuses exclusively on reducing the volume of food, rather than also impacting absorption through the intestines.
The other bariatric weight loss surgical options have a higher risk of complications because they involve bypassing a significant portion of the intestines. This is dangerous because each portion of the intestines has a different role in digestion, including secretion of bile and enzymes and absorbing specific nutrients.
The most common allegation in bariatric weight loss surgery medical malpractice claims or lawsuits rises from bypass surgeries.
According to a peer-reviewed article from the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery, a delay in diagnosis or management of a complication after surgery is the most alleged reason for medical malpractice claims involving bariatric weight loss surgery, with the allegation being a delay in diagnosing an anastomotic leak.
What are anastomotic leaks?
In the context of bariatric surgery, an anastomosis is a surgical connection between two structures. It may be easier to think about a bariatric bypass surgery as the re-plumbing of pipes. The most common sites of leaks during the plumbing job are at the pipe’s connections. In the human body following a bypass surgery, these connection points would be called an anastomosis site.
For example, during a gastric bypass surgery, a segment of the small intestine is cut out, with one end connected to the stomach and the other end connected to the lower or more distal end of the small intestines.
If an anastomosis site leaks, bowel contents are released into the abdominal cavity, where they can cause dangerous or deadly infection and sepsis.
While it is generally not considered negligence or a breach of the standard of care for an anastomosis leak to occur during bariatric weight loss surgery, it is the responsibility of the surgeon and medical and nursing teams to monitor the patient for signs and symptoms of these complications including:
• Unusual pain levels
• Persistent nausea and vomiting
• Fever or signs of infection
The failure to timely diagnose and treat the complications from an anastomotic leak is the most alleged medical malpractice complaint of bariatric weight loss surgery patients.
According to one study, the median payout exceeds $1 million because of the severe permanent disabling fallout that patients face when this negligence occurs.
If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor bariatric surgical care in Texas, then contact a top-rated, experienced Texas medical malpractice lawyer for a free consultation about your potential case.