A 47-year-old nurse had severe back pain and abdominal pain for which she went to a local hospital emergency room on March 10, 2007. The nurse had gastric bypass surgery two years earlier, for which bowel obstruction is a known risk. Despite the woman’s symptoms and her history of prior gastric bypass surgery, the emergency room physician failed to diagnosed the woman’s bowel obstruction and discharged her to home.
The following day, the woman died due to her bowel obstruction. She was survived by her husband of 24 years, an adult child, and a granddaughter.
An Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit was filed on behalf of the nurse’s estate in 2009. The medical malpractice defendants were the emergency room physician who treated the woman in the emergency room on March 10, 2007, and the emergency room physician’s employer.
The medical malpractice trial started on November 5, 2013 and concluded after the jury deliberated for two hours on November 18, 2013, returning its verdict in favor of the woman’s estate in the amount of $2,439,544. The plaintiff’s attorney stated after the verdict, “Nothing will bring Sue back, but I hope this verdict will bring some attention to medical malpractice deaths and what happened to Sue. Most people don’t think of the risks when they go in for treatment. I know we didn’t. You never think it will happen to your loved one who suffers or even dies from a medical error. I’m just glad it’s all over with and the jury agreed with us.”
Risks Of Gastric Bypass Surgery
The short-term risks of gastric bypass surgery include excessive bleeding, infection, adverse reactions from anesthesia, blood clots, breathing problems, leaks in the GI tract, or death (in rare cases). The long-term risks include bowel obstruction, gallstones, hernia, ulcers, stomach perforation, or gastric dumping syndrome (a condition in which undigested contents in the stomach move too rapidly to the small intestine and cause diarrhea and vomiting).
Small bowel obstruction (“SBO”) is a common complication after bariatric surgery that is caused by adhesion, internal hernia, volvulus (a complete twisting of a loop of intestine around its mesenteric attachment site), or intussusception (the sliding of one part of the intestine into another). SBO volvulus has been observed in about 17% of gastric bypass patients. Intussusception is a cause of SBO in only about 1% of cases of SBO.
Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric gastrojejunostomy (“LRYGB”) surgery is the most common form of gastric bypass surgery in the United States and involves the surgeon creating a small pouch by stapling a portion of the stomach together to limit how much food a person can eat. SBO is a recognized complication following LRYGB surgery for morbid obesity, with a reported frequency of 0.2–4.5%.
If you and a loved one suffered injuries or complications as a result of gastric bypass surgery, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice lawsuit, if appropriate.
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