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Who Is at Greatest Risk During Bariatric Surgery?  

Bariatric or weight-loss surgery can help patients manage and prevent medical conditions related to obesity. These procedures are invasive and can put patients at risk of complications. Some patients are at a higher risk of harm during bariatric surgeries than others. Certain people are not eligible for this weight loss solution at all based on their medical conditions or histories. If you or a loved one suffered complications during bariatric surgery in Pennsylvania due to a surgical error, you may be eligible for financial compensation.

Medical Guidelines for Bariatric Surgery

The general medical guidelines for a patient looking to undergo bariatric surgery suggest a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher if the individual is an adult or a BMI of 40 plus an obesity-related medical condition if the individual is an adolescent. A patient may also qualify for weight-loss surgery with a BMI of 35 or higher if he or she has at least one obesity-related medical condition and has completed at least six months of supervised weight loss attempts.

For adolescent patients, a bariatric surgeon may also use growth charts to determine the standard BMI range based on the patient’s age instead of the patient’s BMI alone. In cases where an adolescent has a severe obesity-related medical condition, he or she may also qualify for bariatric surgery with a BMI at or above 35.

High-Risk Patients for Bariatric Surgery and a Surgeon’s Responsibilities

A patient with certain risk factors should not have bariatric surgery. Surgical interventions and anesthesia can put a significant strain on a patient’s body during any invasive procedure. Various medical conditions can make weight-loss surgery too great a health risk for the patient, including conditions that make it too dangerous to use general anesthesia, such as severe heart disease or blood-clotting disorders.

Poor general health can dramatically increase the risks associated with bariatric surgery. If a patient smokes or has problems with drug or alcohol use, this can also increase surgery-related risks. A physician should perform various preoperative tests to perform an adequate assessment of the patient’s risk of complications to determine whether a patient should undergo bariatric surgery. A team of specialists and doctors should carefully review a patient’s full medical history and current health status to make an informed decision about whether bariatric surgery is an appropriate option.

Then, the surgeon must inform the patient of all potential benefits, risks and alternatives to the weight-loss surgery. For example, the patient should be made aware of the lifelong commitment to healthy nutrition and exercise after bariatric surgery. Only with all of the information can a patient give his or her informed consent to a procedure.

Surgical Errors During Bariatric Surgeries

High-risk obese patients who have health conditions or comorbidities must be treated with the utmost care by a bariatric surgeon. A weight-loss procedure should be done only if it is recognized as a safe and feasible option for the patient based on his or her current health status. If a surgeon fails to properly evaluate the safety of bariatric surgery for a patient and this lapse in the standard of care results in patient injury or death, the victim or victim’s family may be able to file a Philadelphia medical malpractice claim.

Other examples of medical malpractice associated with bariatric surgeries include a lack of informed patient consent, anesthesia errors, poor preoperative and postoperative care, and preventable infections. If you or a loved one has been injured due to bariatric surgical errors of any type in Pennsylvania, seek help from our medical malpractice attorneys as soon as possible.