Bariatric bypass surgery is a lifesaving and life changing event for most people who have the procedure done. Sometimes, however, complications from the procedure lead to death or major disability. Even though there are risks inherent to all types of surgery and use of anesthesia, there are risks specific to the individual operation, (i.e., the bypass surgery). Sometimes these complications come about as a result of medical malpractice.
The most common weight loss surgery performed is the roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB). It is the most common because it has been the most successful surgical procedure for total weight loss and long-term maintenance. But unlike the Lap-Band procedure, which wraps a gastric band around the top of the stomach to make it smaller, the RYGB reduces the stomach by stapling it off and attaching the now smaller stomach directly to the small intestine. This is the 'bypass' part of the procedure. The surgical sewing together of this smaller stomach and the small intestine is known as an anastomosis.
Leakage at the anastomosis site can cause serious problems for the patient. If the leakage is not diagnosed promptly, death or serious disability can occur. In most cases where there has been a delay in the diagnosis of an intestinal leak, the surgeon missed the diagnosis because he/she misinterpreted that the abnormal vital signs of the patient represented an early sign of peritonitis. Other malpractice errors have been misinterpreting the diagnostic studies performed - such as upper gastrointestinal contrast studies, abdominal CT scans, and chest X-rays.
If you or your family member has suffered an intestinal leak from a RYGB and suffered serious consequences from that leak, you should consult with a medical malpractice attorney who will be able to determine whether malpractice occurred.