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Michigan Barix Clinic - Things You Should Know & Ask Before Surgery

Weight loss surgeries are performed at a large number of hospitals and surgery centers in Michigan.  Men and women who undergo these procedures need to do their homework before choosing the surgeon and facility to perform their bariatric surgery.  The fact is that not all bariatric centers are the same and patients should ask critical questions before making their selection.

As a Michigan medical malpractice attorney, I have handled a number of lawsuits against weight loss clinics and hospitals.  I have learned a great deal about the inner workings of these facilities and the doctors who perform surgeries at them.  I would like to share with you my thoughts on these centers in general and more specifically with the Barix Surgery Center Michigan located at Forest Health Medical Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

First, make sure that the bariatric clinic you are considering is certified as  a "Center of Excellence" by the American Society of Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).   Centers who have received this designation must meet specific criteria on staffing experience, number of surgeries performed, and have on site inspections.  The center must also report their outcomes to the organization for review and analysis.

Second, do not be overly impressed by presentations and seminars for "informational purposes."  These are really marketing presentations with professional PowerPoint presentations and slick pamphlets to induce you to have surgery at their center.  Look at these the same way you would as if you were attending a sales presentation for a time share vacation package.

Third, ask questions about the surgeons themselves and the other doctors that we will following you as an in-patient after the procedure.  Learn about their credentials and background from searching the internet and not just relying on the center's own materials and website.  Don't be bashful to ask them about current or past lawsuits brought by patients for medical malpractice.  Remember, it's your life and health at stake.

Fourth, remember that this is an invasive surgery under anesthesia.  A number of things can go very wrong during the surgery itself or due to post-operative complications.  Death and subsequent surgeries are very possible risks of the procedures.

My law office currently has a medical malpractice lawsuit pending against the Barix Clinic in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  The lawsuit alleges that the patient was not properly diagnosed with a bowel obstruction after surgery and was discharged home.  She later went to another hospital and underwent a surgery to repair the condition, but complications arose in that surgery also.  She spent several months in the ICU fighting for her life.  The Defendant Forest Health Medical Center and its surgeon, Dr. John Schram, M.D. deny any negligence in the case.

While this Barix Clinic may have a large number of successful outcomes, they also have their share of bad ones. Several lawsuits have been filed in the past by patients and their heirs in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Cases that have settled are subject to confidentiality but the files are available to review at the court clerks office in the civil division at the courthouse.

In my current case, I have learned several things that may give potential patients concerns about having surgery at the Barix Clinic in Michigan.  I have listed below a number of things that you may want to know about this clinic from my current pending case.  These may have changed since then so be sure to ask about them if you make an appointment or attend a seminar:

  1. The Barix Clinic at Forest Health does not have an emergency department like a regular hospital.  There are no emergency room physicians available to treat an emergent medical condition after hours.  The patient would have to be rushed by ambulance to another local hospital.
  2. The Barix Clinic does not have a CT Scan to check for post-operative complications, like a bowel obstruction or post-surgical leak.  The patient would have to be taken to another facility for this type of study.
  3. Read the fine print in the papers you sign before your operation.  In my case, the fine print says that the surgeons are not employed by Forest Health Medical Center and are independent contractors.  The facility is trying to avoid liability by claiming that it did not employ the doctors who worked there and treated the patient.  Your paperwork may be different but you will want to read it carefully.
  4. There are no physicians or surgeons at the facility after hours to see patients.  Most hospitals have medical residents and interns to round on patients during the night and to report to the attending surgeon if there are any complications or concerns.
  5. The facility has an after hours hotline to call with any problems, but your call may not be returned by the surgeon who did your surgery.

Most major Michigan hospitals have their own bariatric centers, like the University of Michigan and William Beaumont Hospital.  If you are concerned about undergoing a major surgery at a surgical center instead of a major hospital, you may want to check out those bariatric programs as well.  The bottom line is that you need to research your surgeon and facility before undergoing weight loss surgery.  You may feel comfortable with Barix at Forest Health in Michigan after doing your due diligence, but don't be afraid to ask the important questions.  Your life and future health depend on it.

Lawrence J. Buckfire
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