On Friday, January 20, 2012, a Florida jury awarded $168 million in compensatory damages in a medical malpractice case; on Monday, January 23, 2012, the same medical malpractice jury awarded another $10 million in punitive damages. The medical malpractice claim involved an obese deputy’s laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery in 2007 that resulted in severe complications that allegedly were improperly and untimely diagnosed and treated, resulting in the man suffering cardiac arrest and septic shock that caused him to sustain brain damage. The deputy was in a coma for more than two weeks. Presently, his speech is affected and he is unable to walk or take care of his activituies of daily living on his own.
The medical malpractice defendants were the man’s gastric bypass surgeon and the hospital where the gastric bypass surgery was performed. The medical malpractice allegations included claims for medical negligence and for fraud. The fraud allegation involved the hospital’s alleged failures with regard to the competence of the gastric bypass surgeon and the hospital’s representations regarding its ability to provide the services that the deputy required. The medical malpractice jury determined that the hospital was 60% at fault and that the surgeon was 40% at fault.
The hospital said in a statement after the medical malpractice verdict that it disagreed with the jury’s verdict and planned to file an appeal.
Some people may scoff at patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery, believing that obese patients are “weak” because they should have control over their weight. Some may believe that obesity is a symptom of the lack of self-control that is a character flaw of overweight people. Nonetheless, these people would be wrong in their judgments in most cases. The fact is that many people who suffer from obesity are sentenced to life-long ridicule and/or discrimination due to their large size.
Obesity in the United States is a recognized disease that has been identified as a national epidemic by many experts. The growing prevalence of obesity in our young children is a problem that will cost our country much in lost wealth and productivity if the obesity problem is not promptly and properly addressed.
There are treatment options available for severe obesity, including gastric bypass surgery that makes changes to the digestive tract by limiting the amount of food that can be eaten and/or by reducing the amount of nutrients that can be absorbed. Gastric bypass surgery is just one type of bariatric surgery available to control weight when diet and exercise alone are not enough to lose the desired amount of weight. Once the procedure is completed, the patient must make permanent changes to diet and engage in regular exercise for the success of the surgery in the long term. As with all major surgery, there are known risks and complications associated with gastric bypass surgery.
If a patient experiences a known risk or complication from gastric bypass surgery, an unnecessary delay in diagnosing the complication or the failure to timely and appropriately respond to the complication may be the basis for a medical malpractice claim.
If you suffered a complication from gastric bypass surgery or any other surgery, the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney may help you determine if you have the basis for filing a medical malpractice claim. Click here to visit our website or telephone us toll free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to assist you in investigating your possible medical malpractice claim.
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