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Fourth Fatality After Lap-Band Surgery in Southern California

Four Southern California patients have died after undergoing lap-band surgery, according to the Los Angeles Times. Lap-band surgery is a procedure where an inflatable silicone ring is placed around the upper portion of a patient's stomach. The band helps give the patient the impression that the stomach is full, causing him or her to eat less. Laura Faitro, age 50, died on July 26, 2010, while seeking follow-up care at the Simi Valley Hospital for intense pain. Five days earlier, she had undergone a lap-band procedure at the Valley Surgical Center in West Hills, Calif.

According to the lawsuit, Faitro's liver was lacerated three times during the lap-band procedure, yet she was discharged from the Valley Surgical Center without being informed of the injury. An autopsy revealed that she had 3 liters of bloody fluid in her abdominal cavity at the time of examination. Physicians at Simi Valley Hospital also diagnosed her as suffering from a blood infection called sepsis, which is a severe condition where the bloodstream is overwhelmed by bacteria. According to the National Institutes of Health, hospital-related infections that can lead to sepsis can be prevented by careful care of medical equipment and hand-washing procedures. A representative of Valley Surgical Center blamed Faitro's death on advanced heart disease, care she received at Simi Valley Hospital, and her "poor overall health." He denied that the liver lacerations caused her death.

Faitro is the fourth patient in the last two years to die after undergoing the lap-band procedure. Three other patients died after having the procedure performed at a Beverly Hills clinic. All the deaths have resulted in lawsuits. The lap-band procedure is advertised through billboards, buses, television, and radio ads, and direct mail. Prospective patients who respond to the ads are referred to various surgery clinics. If you were injured or experienced complications after a lap-band procedure, seek medical attention and consult with a medical malpractice attorney.