Jury Decides Bariatric Surgeon Did Not Deviate from Accepted Standards of Care
Obtained a defense verdict in a medical malpractice action against a bariatric surgeon. The plaintiff had initially named the anesthesia and nursing teams as defendants; however, they were all dismissed before trial. The surgeon client performed a second revision gastric bypass procedure on the plaintiff. Following the 12-hour operation, the plaintiff was diagnosed with a brachial plexus injury that left her with deficits in her left arm and hand. Through her experts, the plaintiff alleged that the brachial plexus injury was caused by the plaintiff's arms being overextended or stretched during the 12-hour procedure. The plaintiff's experts alleged that our client had a duty to position the patient for the surgery or confirm proper positioning prior to the operation. These experts further alleged that our client should have released the arms during the 12-hour operation to avoid the potential stretching of the brachial plexus. The defense strategy focused on both standard of care and proximate causation. It was established that positioning of the patient prior to a bariatric procedure is the role of the anesthesia and nursing teams, and is not the function of the surgeon. It was also established that the patient was positioned properly for the procedure, and the claim that her arms should have been released during the lengthy operation was also challenged by the surgeon and experts as not being within accepted standards of care. The jury returned a defense verdict in favor of the surgeon and found that he did not deviate from accepted standards of care.