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Bariatric Surgery Malpractice

Surgeon DoctorMorbid obesity is rapidly becoming a major cause for concern in American society, and there are many different approaches to weight loss and healthier living recommended by various medical professionals. In the most extreme situations, patients may choose to undergo a major surgical procedure in an attempt at weight control. There are several types of bariartic surgeries, including gastric bypass and "lap-band" procedures, but, as with any surgery, complications are very possible. There are specific issues that occur more often than others, and it can be helpful for a patient to be aware of those potential problems before undergoing such a surgery.

Issues During Surgery

Complications during the most common form of bariatric surgery, the “lap-band,” occur at a “reasonable” rate of 10-17 percent. However, the listed symptoms are nonetheless diseases and conditions that can cause a severe decline in quality of life. Bariatric complications generally include:

  • Leaks in the gastrointestinal system, which occur when the new pathway in your stomach does not heal properly;
  • Breathing problems;
  • Bowel obstruction;
  • Dumping syndrome, characterized by very rapid bowel movements and drops in body temperature;
  • Malnutrition, and
  • Many others of varying severity.

While these complications may be caused by non-malpractice actions such as errors in judgment (where reasonable minds could differ), they all may also be caused by conduct that does amount to malpractice. If a patient suffers harm that is the direct cause of a doctor failing to conform to the standard of care, that doctor is liable. A doctor has a duty to their patients to uphold that standard of care. If it is breached, and you as a patient can show that the harm you suffered was the direct result of your doctor’s actions, he or she may have committed malpractice.

Malpractice Claim Outcomes

Despite the myriad of complications that can arise during bariatric surgery, the trend in taking bariatric malpractice cases to court is somewhat disappointing. In 2012, approximately 180,000 Americans had some form of weight-loss surgery. However, claims from that year onward are routinely dismissed or settled for less than $100,000. There are several possible explanations for this, including patient exaggeration and a lack of evidence of any negligence on the part of the physician - in other words, that all the complications a patient may have suffered fall under reasonably assumed risk.

One notable possibility is reticence to punish the profession’s elder statesmen. The American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) published a study in 2013 that showed a probable correlation between years in practice and the amount of lawsuits filed against a practitioner. Yet many of these suits never went to trial. Juries are statistically less likely to award big verdicts against professionals who have many years of experience, figuring, somewhat erroneously, that experience avoids culpability.

A Difficult Process Requires a Good Attorney

The toll from a botched bariatric surgery is difficult to endure. Your physical and mental health may both be affected, and knowing that a medical professional could have done something different to improve the outcome can make it worse. Often, you need a fighter to get results. The dedicated San Jose medical malpractice attorneys at the firm of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. understand the technicalities of malpractice cases, and are unafraid to ask the tough questions to get results. Contact us today to discuss your case. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of Alameda, Monterey, Santa Clara, San Benito, and San Mateo.

Client Reviews
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.