Gastric Bypass Surgery Complications & How They May Relate to Medical Malpractice

One of the most popular types of weight loss surgeries performed in the United States is gastric bypass surgery. Doctors may recommend it for patients who are severely obese and/or have been unsuccessful with losing weight through diet and exercise. Although it can bring positive results, there is also the risk of complications from the surgery of which patients should be aware.

What does gastric bypass surgery entail?

Surgeons may perform the surgery as an open procedure via a large incision in the abdomen. But it’s more commonly a laparoscopic surgery, where the surgeon makes smaller incisions and uses a small camera to aid in the procedure.

Gastric bypass surgery involves dividing the stomach into two portions. The surgeon will create a pouch in a smaller portion of the stomach using stitches or staples. This smaller pouch makes the person feel fuller quickly, and the patient will ultimately consume less food.

The procedure also connects the small pouch so it bypasses the upper part of the small intestine and the rest of the stomach. This reduces the absorption of calories, but also reduces the absorption of nutrients as well. Thus, patients should thoroughly discuss the implications with their doctor to ensure they receive adequate nutrition.

What are some complications associated with gastric bypass surgery?

The most common complications include:

  • infection at the site of the wound;
  • ulcers;
  • bleeding; and
  • digestive problems.

Some of these complications can be very serious.

The following are life-threatening complications that can occur with gastric bypass surgery:

  • pulmonary embolism;
  • heart attack;
  • sepsis (blood infection);
  • hemorrhaging; and
  • gastrointestinal tract leak.

Although life-threatening complications are rare, when they do occur it can delay healing. And in some cases it could result in death.

There can also be long-term complications after this procedure, such as:

  • bowel obstruction (caused by kinking of the bowel or scar tissue);
  • malnutrition;
  • gallstones or kidney stones;
  • kidney problems;
  • hypoglycemia (low blood sugar);
  • gastric dumping (diarrhea, vomiting/nausea);
  • internal hernias;
  • too much weight loss; and
  • additional operations because of stitch separation or pouch stretching.

Are there circumstances in which complications were preventable or were the result of medical negligence?

Complications can happen whenever someone undergoes surgery. However, doctors should always discuss possible complications prior to the procedure, including risks common to a particular procedure like gastric bypass surgery. In some cases the individual might decide that the benefits of having the procedure aren’t worth those risks. So if a doctor failed to disclose this information, it could be considered medical negligence.

There are also circumstances in which complications were avoidable. This might be the case if infection was related to using unsterile equipment, or the medical team did not respond appropriately after the patient showed signs of infection. Another example might be if there was internal bleeding but the medical team did not properly monitor the patient and failed to recognize it.

Distinguishing between common complications and those that are the result of negligence can be challenging. Discuss your case with an attorney to review whether your injuries may be related to medical negligence and whether or not you have a medical malpractice claim. Call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. to set up a consultation: 877-864-9495.