Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Weight loss procedure surgical error leads to patient death

The incidence of voluntary cosmetic surgery appears to be on the rise in Pittsburgh and elsewhere around the country. According to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, one weight loss surgery known as bariatric surgery is performed approximately 225,000 times per year. The surgery has health benefits for diabetics, as well as the obvious cosmetic benefit of weight reduction.

One specific type of bariatric surgery is called laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery, or lap-band surgery. According to a news report, a 55-year-old woman died after what may be questionable lap-band surgical errors.

According to reliable sources, the specific lap-band surgical procedure the woman had performed was affiliated with a clinic promoted under the name 1-800-GET-THIN. Last December, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to 1-800-GET-THIN surgery centers that the ads promoting the surgery were misleading and failed to sufficiently disclose the risk to patients.

The 55-year-old woman who died after her surgery is the subject of a civil lawsuit filed by two former workers of the clinic where the woman had her surgery performed. The workers have two claims that they believe led to the woman's death after surgery.

  • An intravenous line was improperly inserted which caused the solution to pool on the operating room floor
  • The anesthesiologist failed to turn on the oxygen tank

It was not stated how each of these actions could have specifically resulted in the woman's death. The clinic where the surgery was performed is denying any negligence. It should be noted that four other patients have died in the same area after having the lap-band surgery. Two patients died as a result of peritonitis, one due to a lacerated liver and one as a result of inadequate anesthesia administration.

When a surgical error leads to additional injury, or as in this case, a potentially wrongful death, the negligent party can be held liable for damages including pain and suffering.

The police are investigating the woman's death.

Source: Daily News, "Police investigating death of Ladera Ranch woman who underwent Lap-Band surgery," April 7, 2012

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