There is a certain standard of care that surgeons owe their patients — that their level of skill, expertise, and care is the same possessed and practiced by physicians in the same or similar community, and under similar circumstances. While this standard was once geographically relative, the same standard applies to all doctors practicing the same medicine nationwide.
So weight loss surgeons in Manhattan, Kansas are held to the same standard as those in Manhattan, New York. (Whether those in Tijuana, Mexico will be called to account in American courts remains to be seen.) As with any surgical procedure, gastric bypasses, lap-band procedures, and other weight loss surgeries can be risky. But if something goes wrong, when can you sue the surgeon or clinic for damages?
Surgical Standards of Care
The answer will depend on the standard of care and whether your surgeon met it. The idea behind a standard of care in medical malpractice cases is to determine whether a medical professional acted in a manner consistent with the expectations of the medical community. If a weight-loss surgeon did not do what is expected of other surgeons in that field, they could be held liable for any harm that comes from not adhering to those standards.
Proving that standard — and a surgeon’s failure to meet it — in court, however can be more difficult than it sounds. You would need expert testimony defining the applicable standard of care, and proving that your surgeon was negligent in your case by failing to provide that standard of care. This can become problematic because the experts in the field tend to be doctors, and doctors tend to avoid calling each other negligent.
If you think your weight loss surgeon was negligent in some aspect of their care, there are some important first steps you want to take in order to build a medical malpractice case:
Collect All Relevant Paperwork: diagnoses, prescriptions, bills, and any other tangible documents you’ve received from medical professionals regarding the surgery could be relevant;
Contact the Medical Professional Involved: sometimes a conversation can actually clear things up;
Contact the Relevant Medical Licensing Board: the board can’t compensate you for injuries (or force the surgeon to) but it can issue warnings or discipline to the surgeon; and
Know How Long You Have to File a Claim: state statutes of limitation on medical malpractice claims can vary widely and you don’t want to miss a deadline.
Finally, you’ll want to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to review your possible claims. Contact one in your area today.