Gastric banding is a procedure whereby a band is positioned around the upper portion of the stomach to create a small pouch to restrict the physical capability of the stomach to take in food. An access port connected to the band by tubing is placed in the abdomen wall so that the band can be loosened or tightened by the insertion of saline into the band through the port. It is reportedly the most widely used weight control surgery in Australia. As the numbers of gastric banding procedures performed has increased in recent years, so have the number of adverse outcomes that have been reported to be associated with it.
Paul Nisselle, in his role as general manager of risk assessment at Avant medical insurers, was quoted in The Australian on February 28, 2008 as saying large increases in the rates of the surgery and increased claims meant Avant had introduced a policy requiring bariatric surgeons to pay an excess on their insurance or undertake additional training. He stated “[i]t (the number of claims) is disproportionately high for the volume of the surgery being performed, even allowing for the fact that you are starting with a risky patient pool”.
Legal cases relating to gastric banding
The types of cases that are being seen in relation to gastric banding procedures include those that allege:
- the doctor failed to warn the patient of the material risks of the procedure;
- a post-operative infection developed that was either not detected in a timely manner or was not adequately treated;
- the gastric band was incorrectly placed;
- the patient was not a suitable candidate for gastric banding and therefore the procedure should not have been performed;
- the procedure was not performed with due care and skill resulting in the perforation of the stomach;
- the follow-up and / or adjustment of the band post-operatively was inadequate;
- the doctor who performed the procedure lacked the required level of skill or expertise and / or lacked an appropriate level of training.
Of course, the usual criteria that apply to all medical negligence claims must be met if a claim for negligence in relation to gastric banding can be successfully pursued. For further information in this regard see our information sheet entitled Medical Negligence Claims – Frequently Asked Questions.
For more information, contact Catherine Henry Lawyers on 02 4929 3995 or firstname.lastname@example.org.