DURING THE course of a standard laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery, a widely utilized staple gun apparently malfunctioned, leading to a significant complication, Brigham and Women’s Chief Medical Officer Andy Whittemore said in statement released by the hospital. The relationship of that complication and her ultimate death remains at present unclear.
(the patient), a 37-year-old woman from Lawrence, Massachusetts, died two days after the Oct. 21 surgery, which involved reducing the size of her stomach.
While the cause of death has not been established, the hospital is working with the family to fully understand all issues bearing on her outcome, the hospital said in the statement.
Hmmm. The article doesn’t say when the ‘stapler malfunction’ was recognized, but it seems odd they’re pushing it so hard as the cause of the patients’ death.
I’m not a surgeon, and I’m fortunate in that there are very few super-fancy medical devices used to directly treat my patients, so I don’t have to worry a lot about how to recover from gadget malfunctions.
As I recall from my surgical intern days, a GIA (GastroIntestinal Anastomosis) stapler is an alternative to a hand-sewn anastomosis; the stapler does it quickly, with a nice, pretty row of staples, and it’s quick; a hand-sewn connection requires more time. I’ll let surgeons educate us as to which has the higher complication rate (Cut-to-Cure, that’s your bait). (Aside: I know one surgeon whose practice is largely gastric bypasses, and even laparoscopically does hand-sewn anastamoses. Quickly.)
Seems that this hospital is working hard to pin the blame on the hardware, but the surgeon is ultimately responsible. Captain of the ship doctrine, and all that. The only time that there should be some shared blame is when the equipment malfunction cannot be discerned until later.
This blame-shifting is unseemly. I think if my company sold GIAs it’d be a hell of a long time before Brigham & Women’s got any of my hardware.