Each year, a number of people in Atlanta undergo gastric bypass surgery in an effort to lose weight. However, gastric bypass surgery is not a cosmetic surgery. It is a “last resort” procedure for persons suffering from obesity. But unfortunately, 35 to 40% of those who elect to have the procedure suffer harmful complications within the first six months following surgery.
One problem is the number of gastric bypass procedures that a surgeon can safely perform in a day. Since the need for the procedure has increased, it has become common practice for some surgeons to perform as many as five operations per day. If a surgeon performs the procedure too quickly or while he or she is too fatigued, the patient is put in danger. This can lead to medical negligence and serious, long-term injuries.
Another cause for concern is that the surgical stapler and staples used in the procedure are prone to malfunction, thus, causing fluid to leak from the gastrointestinal track into the abdominal cavity. These fluids are highly caustic and can harm other areas of the body. The Food and Drug Administration has documented some 9,000 cases of serious complications and 100 deaths caused by failed surgical staples and/or staples used in operations.
Other complications may include:
• excessive bleeding
• nutritional deficiencies
Some procedures were performed in facilities that were not properly suited in caring for obese persons. Consequently, such equipment as CAT scanners, operating tables, instruments, and other diagnostic tools were rendered inadequate due to the patient’s size. In other instances, medical practitioners failed to respond in a timely manner to patient complaints or simply failed to educate patients about post surgery recovery.
As I mentioned earlier, gastric bypass surgery is used specifically to treat obesity. Therefore, it is only considered beneficial for patients who are not less than 100 pounds overweight or who have a body mass index of 40 or more. Only under certain circumstances, such extreme cases of diabetes or cardiopulmonary problems, should the procedure be performed on persons with a slightly lower body mass index. Absent these rare extenuating circumstances, performing bypass surgery on someone who is not more than 100 pounds overweight is a form of medical malpractice. Therefore, patients should be wary of surgeons who try to “sell” them the procedure.
For many people suffering from obesity, gastric bypass surgery has enabled them to lose a considerable amount of weight. However, as we have seen, a number of complications can result after the surgery. Some of these complications may even warrant hospitalization of the patient for the entire length of the treatment, and close supervision upon release from the hospital to ensure that the problems have been corrected.