Consequences of Bariatric Surgery Malpractice

The consequences of bariatric surgery malpractice have recently been reported on in a number of academic studies.

There is no end to the lengths people will go to lose weight when motivated to do so. Proper diet and exercise are proven remedies but these methods while sound are not always successful. Alternatives consisting of magic pills, special teas and fad diets rarely have any lasting impact. Gastric bypass or bariatric surgery is a solution of last resort which has become more widely available. It is a phenomena that is driven in some part by consumer demand. In the hands of trained, skilled and experienced surgeons bariatric surgery is a relatively safe procedure. The consequences of bariatric surgery malpractice though can be far reaching.

Complications of Bariatric Surgery Associated with Malpractice Can Result in Wrongful Death

A recent study of bariatric surgery malpractice claims in Catalonia over a 17 year period found that only 49 claims were made. A survey of surgeons determined that these claims represented 0.6% of the operations that were performed during the same time period. This is a very small proportion but a large proportion of these claims had serious consequences. The patient died in 23, or almost half (47%) of the cases, 14% were left with serious after effects, while 18% had mild after effects and 21% made a complete recovery. The most frequent cause of death was peritonitis due to suture dehiscence which accounted for 48% of the fatalities. Respiratory complications were responsible for another 17.4% of the fatal cases. In the cases where malpractice was considered to have occurred it was due to lack of an adequate informed consent document, delay in recognising a complication, or an error in the interpretation or treatment of the complication.

High Rate of Success in Bariatric Surgery Malpractice Claims

The study did find that the incidence of bariatric surgery malpractice claims was low. It also found that there was a relatively high rate of resolutions in favour of a finding of malpractice. In fact 2/3 of the cases were resolved against the surgeons involved. This compares with a success rate of approximately 1/3 of all malpractice claims actually made in Canada and the United States. For more information visit our gastric bypass complications page.

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