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A guide to weight loss surgery claims

Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery is on the increase, with between 9000 and 10,000 procedures being undertaken in the UK every year. This surgery is risky and requires the skill of an experienced surgeon. If you receive substandard care, you may be able to bring a claim for negligence.

Types of weight loss surgery

There are three procedures you may be offered if undergoing weight loss surgery. These are:

  • Laparoscopic gastric banding
  • Sleeve gastrectomy
  • Laparoscopic gastric bypass

Before the procedure

Prior to your operation, your surgeon should ensure that you are fully informed about the procedure. They must obtain your consent and this must be done as a two stage process. It should never be done on the day of your surgery.

The surgeon should ensure that you have received appropriate counselling and are fully aware of the weight you need to lose, the follow-up care you will require and the need to treat any existing medical conditions or stop smoking. You are likely to require a low calorie diet for several weeks prior to your operation and this should be monitored by your team to ensure that you are an appropriate candidate for surgery.

Your preparation for the operation should involve a number of medical professionals. This is known as a multidisciplinary team approach. You should have input from the following:

  • A psychologist
  • A dietician
  • An anaesthetist
  • Your surgeon
  • In some circumstances, an obesity consultant

If you have not received this care prior to your procedure, this could be negligent.

Risks of surgery

The risks and complications are different for each procedure. In order to bring a successful claim you have to show that you received substandard care. If something happens which is a recognised risk of the procedure, then it is unlikely to be considered substandard care.

There are different complications arising out of the different procedures. These are:

Gastric Band:

  • The band may slip or erode
  • There may be band/portage leakage or infection
  • The gastric pouch may dilate and become too large

Gastric By-Pass and Sleeve Gastrectomy:

  • There may be a leak or bleeding
  • Bowel obstruction. The bowel can become kinked or twisted and needs to be diagnosed quickly.
  • Ulceration in the new stomach
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis or pulmonary embolism

These are just some of the complications you may experience but you should be aware that some complications can occur years after surgery. The above complications may or may not be negligent. If there has been a delay in diagnosing and treating complication, this could be negligent.

After the procedure

Following the procedure you should have a clear discharge and management plan. You should remain under the care of your surgeon for at least two years following the procedure and after that, your surgeon should provide a clear management plan to your GP. You should have annual consultations with your GP for life. This may differ slightly if you paid privately for your weight loss surgery as you may only remain under the care of your surgeon for one year prior to having annual consultations with your GP.

If you do not have the above, again, this could be negligent.

How we can help

Linder Myers has a very experienced team of solicitors who have brought successful weight loss surgery claims and we would be happy to discuss your potential case with you. Any initial advice we give would be free of charge.

Examples of successful cases brought by Linder Myers

Case Study 1:

A successful case was brought on behalf of the husband and young children of a 40 year old lady who died following complications which developed after her gastric bypass operation.  She suffered symptoms of very rapid and significant weight loss, dizziness, vomiting, hair loss and a respiratory infection.  The surgery performed was below an acceptable standard.  There were delays following the procedure to investigate her symptoms and clinicians failed to recognise that she was malnourished.  If she had received the appropriate treatment, she would have survived.  Liability was admitted settlement negotiated.

Case Study 2:

The Claimant underwent gastric bypass surgery. Prior to the procedure, the surgeon failed to have a proper discussion with her as her test results showed that she was at an increased risk of bleeding. Following the operation, she was not monitored properly. She suffered post operative complications but was discharged from hospital. The following day she was admitted to a different hospital where it was discovered that she had suffered a perforation. The delay in diagnosing this left her seriously ill.

If you think that you may have a weight loss surgery claim, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 085 3295 or alternatively by email to clinnegenquiries@lindermyers.co.uk.

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