A bariatric band became unclipped and the patient sued.

An obese patient with a BMI of 44.7 was referred for a bariatric procedure to a consultant vascular surgeon with an interest in bariatric and laparoscopic surgery.

Following surgery, the patient, a 32-year old man, initially lost nearly four stones over a period of nine months but this stopped and he regained the lost weight. It transpired that the band had become unclipped.

The private healthcare company through which the procedure was arranged only offered free revision surgery within the first three months post-procedure. The surgeon, an MDU member, offered to perform revision surgery free of charge, provided the patient could make arrangements with the private hospital, or to treat the patient on the NHS, for which he would require a GP referral. However, the patient’s local NHS trust did not fund revision surgeries where the initial procedure was undertaken on a private basis.

The unclipping was a recognised complication of the procedure.

The patient’s claim against the surgeon alleged that he had been negligent in fitting the band and that it had become unclipped because it was not secured properly.

The MDU asked an independent consultant general surgeon to give an opinion in relation to the performance of the surgery. The expert found that:

  • The operation note written by the surgeon was of a good quality.
  • The fact that patient recorded good progress with a weight loss of at least 3 stones suggests that the band was correctly placed and properly clipped together.
  • The unclipping was a recognised complication of the procedure.
  • The original surgery performed by the MDU member was not in any way substandard and any allegations against him are unfounded.

On the member’s behalf, we denied liability in relation to the claim, and to prevent the costs escalating if the claim was prolonged, we made a ‘drop hands’ offer to the claimant’s solicitors. This means that the claim is discontinued, with both parties paying their own costs.

The claimant’s solicitors made a counter offer to settle the claim for damages of £10,000. We restated our ‘drop hands’ offer with a caveat that discontinuance would not be an option after the expiry date of the offer, and we would then seek repayment of our costs.

The claimant’s solicitors agreed to discontinue the claim against the surgeon and no compensation was paid to the claimant.

Funke Oduwole
Claims handler

This page was correct at publication on 12/08/2015. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.