Davis Levin Livingston attorneys helped secure a $4.25 million judgment for a client who faces lifelong complications from a botched bariatric gastric bypass surgery.
The client was a woman in good health other than her weight when doctors at Tripler Army Medical Center pressured her into undergoing the surgery. Following complications during surgery, she was sent into intensive care in critical condition. Five years after the surgery, she still suffers from daily vomiting and painful abdominal scar tissue. She also has eating problems that doctors expect to continue for the rest of her life.
The case turned on the doctor’s failure to exercise due care in recommending the surgery. Typically, bariatric surgery is only ordered when a patient’s body mass index is 40 or higher and they suffer serious illnesses associated with obesity. On the day of the surgery, the woman had a BMI of 36 and was suffering from no other health conditions. In fact, had the woman requested the surgery while using private health insurance, she would have been denied coverage.
The doctor’s actions leading up to the surgery were also called into question. Less intrusive means, including diet and exercise, are almost always attempted before surgery. While the doctor put the woman on a weight loss program, she was also put on a conveyor belt towards surgery. Prior to the operation, she was told that if she did not undergo it, she would regain the weight she had lost and develop high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses.
The judgment recognizes that the doctor and hospital failed to follow reasonable standards of care and denied the woman’s ability to give informed consent by pressuring her to undergo the surgery. The award compensates the woman for her past, present, and future pain, suffering, medical expenses, and lost income.
Following the botched surgery, her husband left her, and her relationship with her minor son was damaged because her condition left her unable to care for him. $100,000 of the $4.25 million was awarded to her son for this loss of parental care and companionship.