Lawsuit Alleges Medical Negligence and Wrongful Death in Bariatric Surgery

A bariatric surgeon’s negligence in failing to order blood clotting tests and investigate whether a gastric bypass patient was an appropriate candidate for blood thinners before performing gastric directly led to the patient’s death four days after surgery, according to a lawsuit filed this week in Cook County Circuit Court by the law firm of Burke Wise Morrissey Kaveny (BWMK) and BWMK Partner Elizabeth Kaveny.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the surviving wife of the estate of “WG”. “WG” was 42 years old at the time of his death, leaving behind his wife  and young child. The lawsuit filed on their behalf names Christopher Joyce M.D. and his employer, BMI Surgery S.C. (doing business as Bariatric & Minimally Invasive Surgery) of New Lenox, Illinois, as defendants.

The laparoscopic vertical banded Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery was performed on “WG” on October 3, 2011 by Dr. Joyce at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, Illinois. Prior to the surgery, Joyce did not order or obtain a coagulation study of “WG” despite his intention to place “WG” on blood thinners. Joyce also did not order a pre-operative prothrombin time and international normalized ratio test (ProTime INR test) as a standard measure to determine the clotting tendency of blood. In the two days following the surgery, WG’s hemoglobin level fell nearly 25 percent, a strong indicator of blood loss. Nevertheless, Joyce discharged “WG” on October 5, 2011 without investigating the cause of his dropping hemoglobin and ruling out internal bleeding from the surgery.

Two days later, “WG” was taken by ambulance to Rush-Copley Medical Center and then airlifted to Silver Cross Hospital. Joyce performed an exploratory laparotomy on “WG” at the hospital, but he died that same day.

“We intend to demonstrate that multiple negligent deviations from the standard of care were committed by the attending physician and the medical group named as defendants,” Ms. Kaveny stated. “It was pure negligence to place a patient on blood thinners without conducting the presurgical tests to ensure that he did not have a predisposition for bleeding and/or clotting to begin with. Bleeding is a known complication of this surgery and in WG’s, he bled out because his doctors had put him on blood thinners without ensuring it was safe to do so.”

“As gastric bypass procedures become more commonplace in our society, people need to know of the risks associated. But patients need to also know that their surgeons are ensuring that they are proper candidates for the surgery and all that comes with it before performing the surgery on them.”

Leave a Reply