Bariatric surgery is a surgical procedure performed to assist a patient in losing weight. There are different types of surgery that may be performed from a restrictive procedure where a band is placed around the stomach, or a more involved bypass procedure to modify the gastrointestinal tract. With each procedure, there may be different consequences. In the last several years the number of individuals opting for this type of surgery has greatly increased and with that increase, a number of cases and issues have been in the media including wrongful death caused by a defective surgical stapler and over 9,00 reports of complications made to the FDA.
In 1983 The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) was formed and is the largest society for this specialty in the world. Part of the Society’s mission is to provide educational and support programs for surgeons and integrated health professionals and multidisciplinary teams as well as to improve care, advance the science and understanding of the surgery, foster communication between healthcare practitioners and patients and to be an advocate for health care policy. For educational resources, visit the ASMBS website.
Yet earlier this year Deputy Clay Chandler was awarded $178 million in a lawsuit against Memorial Hospital Jacksonville for medical negligence and fraud damages. According to a January, 2012 article in The Florida Times-Union, Chandler was severely incapacitated after weight loss surgery at the hospital in 2007. Now brain damaged and confined to a wheelchair, for eight days following his surgery he showed signs of complications where fluids from the bowl leaked into the abdomen. The report sites the surgeon’s inexperience and “failure to meet the hospital’s advertised accreditation” which the jury found to be acts of fraud.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration website details the procedure, risks and targets weight loss claims. You can register to receive Consumer Update RSS feeds and email updates. Steven Silverman, director of the Office of Compliance in FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health stated that “Consumers, who may be influenced by misleading advertising, need to be fully aware of the risks of any surgical procedure.”
If you or someone you know is considering Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery, you should become familiar with the standardization of bariatric surgery practices and guidelines, as well as the risks involved. If you have undergone a procedure and you have developed complications, contact Okun, Odd & Babat for a consultation.