Stomach stapling surgery is also known as gastric bypass surgery. People have this surgery when they are having trouble controlling their appetite and their weight. The procedure involves connecting the smaller part of the stomach to the low intestine in order to restrict the amount of food a person can ingest. This is intended to help them lose weight or control their weight better.

Generally, doctors will not prescribe stomach stapling surgery unless other forms of weight loss have been tried and have failed. Like any other surgical procedure, stomach stapling surgeries are associated with various risks of side effects, harm or injury. These can include:

  • Infection (often due to a failure to follow sanitation instructions or procedures);
  • Blood clots;
  • Bleeding and ulcers;
  • Scarring of the abdomen; and/or
  • Enlargement of the stomach pouch.

Health risks can also be present after the surgery. For instance, after the surgery, the patient’s stomach will be significantly smaller and able to hold less volume than before. Vomiting, nausea, or other symptoms can occur if the person eats more than the pouch can hold.

Lastly, a common risk is that the line of staples and the band holding the pouch together may erode over time. This can cause stomach juices to leak into the abdomen, requiring emergency surgery.

What is Medical Malpractice?

If a doctor, hospital, or other party legally responsible for giving quality medical care causes direct harm to a client under their care, they can be sued for medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is the legal term for failing to fulfill a legal duty of care as a medical professional.

In the case of stomach stapling surgery, common malpractice claims focus around internal leaking due to faulty procedure, or internal bleeding of the stomach based on failed surgery methods. Blood clots and floating blood clots can also occur as a result of stomach stapling surgery. These kinds of symptoms can be very serious and can even lead to death within a short time if the symptoms are not diagnosed and immediately treated.

Other forms of medical malpractice in connection with a stomach stapling or gastric bypass surgery may include:

  • Failure to abide by proper sanitation and cleaning procedures;
  • Leaving a sponge, bandage, or other similar item inside the patient’s body;
  • Failure to provide proper instructions for after-surgery care; and/or
  • Providing incorrect medications in connection with the surgery.

Can I File a Claim for a Stomach Stapling Surgery Injury?

Malpractice claims are often based on negligence, and negligence is proved only if specific legal elements are present. In order to prove negligence, the plaintiff must prove:

  1. Duty of Care: The plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a direct and legal obligation to provide a certain quality of care to the plaintiff. This element must be present to proceed with a medical malpractice lawsuit. 
    • In most cases, the duty of care will be the medical standards that a doctor of similar experience and training would employ.
  2. Breach of Duty of Care: There must also be a proven breach of a duty of care in order to proceed with a medical negligence case. In the case a medical negligence case, this often means that something that was supposed to happen didn’t happen in terms of medical treatment. 
    • For instance, if the doctor fails to clean a surgical instrument, and an infection occurs as a result, it might be considered a breach of their duty of care.
  3. Causation of Harm: There must be actual physical substantial harm caused to the plaintiff for a medical malpractice claim to proceed.The plaintiff must prove that the harm was directly caused by the defendant for the stomach stapling surgery malpractice case to be successful.
  4. Damages: The harm must also result in measurable damages to the patient. The damages must be calculable; these calculations may be based on economic costs such as costs of additional surgery, lost wages, and other damages.

What if the Injury was Caused by a Defective Medical Instrument?

In some surgery injury cases, the injury is not actually caused by a doctor or medical professional. Instead, injuries can occur due to defective medical devices or products. For instance, if a surgical instrument is contaminated with bacteria or a virus, there may be a chance that the manufacturer of that product will be held liable under product liability laws.

Another example is where a medical pump fails during the surgery, resulting injury to the patient. Defective product lawsuits may be based on a variety of different legal theories, including:

  • Manufacturing Defects: defects that occur during assembly;
  • Design Defects: products that fail because they were designed improperly; or
  • Warning Label Defects: products that fail to include proper safety warnings.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with a Stomach Stapling Surgery Lawsuit?

If you have been injured as the result of stomach stapling surgery that failed or was otherwise unsuccessful, you should contact a personal injury attorney right away. Your attorney will be able to provide you with advice, and can determine which type of legal theory your case will be based on.