The gastric bypass stapler was first manufactured in 1999 by Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson and since then the device has been cited in numerous complaints as being unreliable and unsafe. Over a period of fifteen years, the FDA received over 9,000 reports of adverse events related to the device and over 90% of the reports cited the failure of the device to work as intended as the cause of harm. Despite this information, the two primary manufacturers of gastric bypass staplers in the nation continue to deflect blame back upon surgeons while refusing to improve product design in order to address safety concerns.
How Gastric Bypass Staplers Function
Gastric bypass is a procedure that divides the stomach into two different parts— one of which is a very small upper pouch and the other which is the remainder of the stomach. The small intestine is attached to the larger portion of the stomach, so a connection is established that allows the upper pouch to connect to the small intestine to aid in digestion. Patients eat less because the upper portion of the stomach becomes full more quickly, resulting in a controlled appetite.
The gastric bypass stapler is a device that allows surgeons to close the incisions that have been made during the procedure since the cuts are too large for stitches. Problems that have been reported about this device include its failure to form correct staples, inability to fire properly and inserting staples that later come loose or fail to keep the incision closed. Injuries that may result from the use of a defective stapler include the following.
- Internal bleeding caused by the failure to close the wound or from the staple site itself.
- The leakage of stomach acid from areas that reopen after the procedure.
- Infection of the staple site or of the incision.
- Hernia resulting from the failure of the stapler to perform as intended.
- Septic shock, which is an infection which reaches the bloodstream and travels to major organs.
- Injuries that require revision surgeries.
- Death, in the most severe cases.
Stapler Manufacturers Playing the Blame Game
Ethicon currently has a market share of 66% of all gastric bypass staplers sold while U.S Surgical controls the rest of the market. Rather than responding to reports of the adverse events related to gastric bypass stapler use by recalling their products or improving their designs, these manufacturers have chosen instead to allow surgeons to take the fall. Ethicon has repeatedly alleged that the equipment malfunctions are the result of human error, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to substantiate this claim when the devices, not the surgeons, have become the common denominator in nearly 10,000 incidents.
In recent years, victims and their families have successfully filed lawsuits against Ethicon for product liability, which states that the manufacturer of a product is responsible for any injuries that the product causes when used as intended. If you underwent a gastric bypass procedure and suffered injuries due to staples not forming correctly or failing to close your wound, you may be entitled to compensation for the cost of medical treatment required to correct the issue, for pain and suffering and for any other financial loss you have incurred as a result.
Staple Surgery Malpractice Awards
$543,316 Verdict; Staple Surgery Malpractice; Rock Island, Illinois
The plaintiff here was still a young man. He was only forty-six during the events which gave rise to this staple case. Prior to the incident, he operated cranes for a living. He needed surgery though to deal with his weight. He was an obese many and that was affective his quality of life. Doctors elected to do a sleeve gastrectomy procedure. In that operation, they remove part of the stomach and what is left resembles a sleeve. They staple it back together when they are all done. Later, the man claimed in court that the doctor negligently stapled his stomach and brought some of the nasogastric tube into it. Plus, he said that the surgeon made a hole between the stomach and esophagus. These errors caused gastric leaking, sepsis, and other problems. He needed therapy, surgery, and time off of work to fix it. He sued the doctor and facility. His lawsuit complained of this staple surgery malpractice and sought compensation for his financial damages, pain, and disability. The defendants replied that this is a known side-effect thought rare and that the plaintiff was warned about it. The jury believed it was an unreasonable risk though. They awarded the man over $500,000 for his pain ($200,000), medical bills ($326,578), and lost wages ($13,275).
$60,000 Settlement; Staple Surgery Malpractice; Chicago, Illinois
This events of this case were short but had long-lasting effects. The patient affected was a woman in her early forties. She needed anterior resection done. The operation was performed by a surgeon at a Chicago-area hospital. Unfortunately, the doctor stapled through her vaginal wall. Professionals describe this turn of events as a complication. Then, things got worse because that turned into a fistula. She had to go back in and do another surgery to get a colostomy though it was only temporary. She sued the people involved as well as the hospital. She alleged their negligent staple surgery caused her pain, expenses (over $20,000 in hospital bills, and trauma. The hospital filed a timely reply. But things were not put to a jury. That is because they settled to end the matter. It was clearly the defendants’ fault so trial was unnecessary. The woman received $60,000 in settlement compensation for her economic and non-economic damages.
$2,400,000 Settlement; Staple Surgery Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
Here, a woman in her middle fifties tragically passed away after stomach-stapling surgery. She was just fifty-six. Her five children survived her. Apparently, the stapling was not done properly. That led to internal bleeding. Eventually, the bleeding caused her to fall into a coma. She did not last long at that point. After the heartbreak of the loss, her kids decided to bring a lawsuit against the doctors and facility where the operation took place. They claimed that the staple surgery was not done reasonably and that it caused her wrongful death. They sought compensation for her passing as well as the pain and costs that resulted from it all. The defendants each filed separate replies answering each part of the plaintiffs' complaint. However, they all got together and decided that settling was preferable to trial. The family received $2.4 million. The bulk of that was paid by the hospital and the treating surgeon (roughly $1.9 million). The rest came from various professionals that treated her in passing or supported the primary doctor.
$2,000,000 Settlement; Staple Surgery Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
This controversy took place in a hospital not far outside of Chicago. The victim was a 25-year-old girl. She underwent a procedure to have her stomach stapled. This was attempted in order to help her lose some weight. However, things went poorly during the operation. While she was in recovery, it became clear that it was done well under standards. She had memory loss and was experiencing gait ataxia. There were also other, more minor symptoms that manifested themselves and had an effect on her quality of life such as dehydration. She sued the doctors that treated her and the facility where it occurred. Her lawsuit stated that they were negligent, the staple surgery was not done well enough, that she suffered because of it, and that they were responsible for her damages including bills, pain, disability, and other losses. The defendants did not air their grievances in public because the matter settled before it came to that point. The primary doctor compensated her $800,000; the neurologist compensated her $900,000, and the hospital compensated her $300,000.
Contact Our Team of Staple Surgery Lawyers
The Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC have access to all of the resources needed to represent your interests and ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries. By enlisting the assistance of experts in fields such as medicine and economics, we are able to properly argue and value your case in order to make certain that your expenses are covered both in the present and the future. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an attorney so that we may evaluate your case and begin our own investigation.
Following a thorough evaluation, our attorneys can best advise you on your legal options and how best to pursue your claim. If for any reason we are unable to secure compensation on your behalf, all of our resources and time will be free of charge and you will not owe us a thing.