Can I Sue for Gastric Bypass Surgery Complications? February 25, 2024.

Can I Sue for Gastric Bypass Surgery Complications?

Bariatric surgeries are performed to manage obesity and weight-related problems. In the United States alone, close to 280,000 bariatric surgeries were performed in 2022. Out of those procedures, 62,097 of them were gastric bypass surgeries.

Gastric Bypass Surgery Overview

First, let’s go over what happens during a gastric bypass surgery. Essentially, the surgeon creates a pouch that connects from the top of the stomach to the small intestine. As the name suggests, this makes any food eaten bypass most of the stomach. These changes allow the patient to feel full faster while making them eat fewer calories.

People Who May be a Candidate

Not every obese person is a candidate for gastric bypass surgery. There are specific guidelines in place to see if someone is a candidate. The patient has to have a body mass index (BMI) of 40+. Or they can have a BMI of 30-35 if they also have weight-related health problems.

Weight-related health problems include:

  1. Stroke
  2. Heart disease
  3. High blood pressure
  4. High cholesterol
  5. Type 2 diabetes
  6. Kidney disease

There also needs to be a history of the patient attempting weight loss through diet and exercise, with no improvement.

Complications of Gastric Bypass Surgery

Just like any procedure, gastric bypass surgery doesn't come without risks. 10%-20% of bariatric surgery patients have complications, according to The Cleveland Clinic.
Some complications from this surgery include:

  1. Dumping syndrome
  2. Pulmonary embolism
  3. Anastomotic leak
  4. Peritonitis

Can I Sue for Gastric Bypass Complications?

In some cases, patients can sue for medical malpractice after gastric bypass complications. Medical malpractice refers to when a medical professional injures a patient. This occurs when the medical professional fails to meet the standard of care. Unfortunately, this often leads to the patient suffering severe injuries or even death.

Continue reading to learn about instances and complications that you may be able to sue for.

Failure to Provide Dietary Guidelines

Some patients experience vitamin and nutritional deficiencies after surgery. Doctors should provide the patient with a list of vitamins and foods to eat to avoid this.

Vitamins patients need to take include B12, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Calcium, and a multivitamin. A dietician should also work with the patient to make a nutritional guide/ plan. This will ensure that the patient is eating highly nutritional foods.

If dietary guidelines are not provided, and the patient has complications, then they may be able to sue for medical malpractice. A common complication of nutritional and vitamin deficiency is dumping syndrome.

Dumping Syndrome

Dumping syndrome is when the stomach empties into the small intestine too quickly. This can lead to large amounts of undigested food going into the small intestine.

Dumping syndrome typically happens after patients eat foods high in sugar and fat. This can be avoided if the physician provides the patient with a strict nutritional plan.

Some people experience early dumping, while others have late dumping syndrome. Patients with early dumping syndrome show symptoms within 30 minutes of eating. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fast heart rate, and dizziness.

Late dumping syndrome doesn’t show symptoms until 3-4 hours after eating. The symptoms include shakiness, fatigue, fast heart rate, cold sweats, and hunger.

Delayed Diagnosis of A Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolisms are the most common cause of death after a bariatric procedure. A pulmonary embolism is when blood clots in the leg travel up into the lungs. Once it reaches the lungs, it suddenly blocks blood flow. Common symptoms include chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, and coughing up blood. A pulmonary embolism is life-threatening if it is not treated. It can be treated with blood medications, like blood thinners, or surgery.

Doctors need to act fast if their patient has symptoms since it is life-threatening. Doctors who fail to diagnose and treat a pulmonary embolism can be sued for medical malpractice or wrongful death.

Failure to Diagnose and Treat An Anastomotic Leak

During this surgery, a pouch is created that connects the top of the stomach to the small intestine. The surgical connection of the pouch to the stomach is called anastomosis.

Anastomotic Leak

An anastomotic leak is a serious complication after a gastric bypass surgery. If the anastomosis is not properly sealed, then digestive fluids can leak out. Our body’s digestive fluids are designed to only be handled by the digestive area. So, if it leaks out a severe infection can occur in the abdominal cavity.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the symptoms include:

  1. Fever
  2. Pain/ cramping in the stomach
  3. Pain in the left shoulder
  4. Low blood pressure

Until the leak is treated, patients are at risk for bleeding and infections in their abdomen.


Peritonitis is a life-threatening complication that can arise after an anastomotic leak. This causes the lining of the abdomen to become inflamed. Symptoms include a swollen abdomen, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Peritonitis needs to be treated quickly because the infection can turn deadly. If left untreated, it can also cause significant organ damage.

Patients or loved ones can sue for medical malpractice if the doctor failed to timely diagnose peritonitis and it led to an injury or death.

How Our Firm Can Help You

Suffering from severe complications after a surgery that was supposed to help you is devastating. This fresh start can quickly turn into regret. We understand how difficult it is to deal with this. That’s why we focus on getting you compensation for any damages, while you focus on recovering.

For 40 years, Chris Mellino has made it his mission to fight for medical malpractice victims. He digs below the surface of every case to ensure that no stone is left unturned. This detail-oriented approach often leads to better results for our clients.
In fact, Chris has recovered settlements and verdicts against all hospitals in the Cleveland area.

If you or a loved one has suffered debilitating injuries after a gastric bypass surgery, we encourage you to contact our office. You can reach us by phone at (440) 333-3800 or by filling out our online contact form.