gastric band

Doctor fired from hospital for warning patients about dangers of gastric band surgery

Monday, November 08, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: gastric band, surgery, health news

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(NaturalNews) After seeing countless patients suffer severe complications and seeing one patient die after getting gastric band surgery, surgical resident Neelu Pal began calling patients before their surgeries to warn them of the risk. When her supervisors at the New York University (NYU) Medical Center found out, she was fired. Pal, an immigrant from India, says she has now been blackballed from practicing medicine in the United States.

Pal has filed a lawsuit against the NYU Medical Center and enrolled in law school.

Gastric band surgery has recently become a popular alternative to the more invasive gastric bypass procedure. Unlike that procedure, gastric banding is quicker, reversible and is considered less risky.

"This restrictive-only procedure involves wrapping an inflatable band around the stomach to create a small pouch with a narrow outlet," write Ann M. Coulston and Carol J. Boushey in their book Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Disease.

Pal alleges that her superiors at NYU -- married couple Christine Ren and George Fielding -- were running a Lap-Band factory, installing as many as 30 of the devices in a single day.

"My impression at the time was that the practice was disorganized, but once I knew more about the system, I could see what they were trying to do was get as many patients on to the operating table as possible," Pal said.

A 2006 New York State Department of Health investigation had previously reprimanded Fielding for falsifying data on a 14-year-old boy whose appendix may have been removed unnecessarily after he experienced side effects from a gastric band operation, and for failing to address a postoperative patient's lack or urination, which contributed to the patient's death. Fielding has also been the subject of numerous personal injury lawsuits in his native Australia. The investigation cited Ren for permitting surgeons to practice without licenses and then covering it up.

Ren and Fielding are paid consultants for Allergan Inc., which makes Lap-Bands, the brand-name gastric bands that dominate more than two-thirds of the device's $300 million to $400 million market.

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