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Bariatric Medicine Malpractice

Gastric bypass surgery results in a significant number of malpractice claims against bariatric surgeons. There are a variety of gastric bypass procedures, some of which are more popular than others. All carry the risk of post-operative complications, frequently because of the state of health of the individual undergoing the procedure prior to surgery. Due to their high body weight, obese patients are at an extremely high risk for developing pressure ulcers on the operating table. Pressure ulcers, or pressure sores, occur when tissues are deprived of oxygen for a period of time, as they may be during surgery when the patient is immobilized. Once the pressure ulcer occurs, a large wound may develop, which presents the opportunity for potentially life threatening wound infections, which may lead to sepsis or eventually death.

Roux en Y is a common procedure in which the stomach is stapled to create a small pouch. The small bowel is then directly connected to the small pouch, allowing food to bypass part of the small bowel. Food must pass through the small bowel in order to be digested, so rerouting the food in this way allows some food ingested to exit the body without being digested.

Bariatric surgeons may also use a laparoscopic surgical approach, which is considered to be minimally invasive and safer compared to traditional surgical procedures. Since the incision is smaller, faster wound healing is supposed to occur, which decreases the risk of surgical site infection. Lap band procedure complications include leaking around the band. Many bariatric surgeons performing new procedures may not have received adequate training and have little experience. These factors may contribute to a potentially fatal error. As with all surgical procedures, life threatening infection and improper post-operative management may lead to prolonged hospital stay or death.

One complication that may occur several months after the procedure is stricture or ulcer of the narrow path leading from the stomach to the small bowel. The patient may experience severe abdominal pain after eating, nausea and vomiting. Malabsorption syndrome and malnutrition may occur due to the loss of absorption of proteins and other vital nutrients into the gut. Either of these may result in a serious infection in the gut. If not promptly diagnosed and treated, disability or death may occur. Cautious management of bariatric surgery patients is critical and must be performed by a competent bariatric surgeon

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