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Outcomes For Bariatric Surgery Differ Greatly Amoung U.S. Hospitals

Bariatric surgery is becoming more and more popular in the U.S., where people with severe weight problems are opting for surgical intervention to help them lose weight and restore their health. Though there are naturally risks associated with weight loss surgery, Americans are willing to accept the potential problems in order to get the excess weight off fast.

An individual who makes the choice to have weight loss surgery will usually look for the safest, most appropriate and most effective type of procedure available to accommodate their own situation. But a new study shows that choosing the most experienced hospital is the key to getting the best results, the fewest complications, and the shortest in-hospital recovery period.

When checking for the best options for their weight loss surgery, patients may want to first check out HealthGrades, an independent organization that rates healthcare organizations. In particular, The Fifth Annual HealthGrades Bariatric Surgery Trends in American Hospital Study, which was recently published, gives an excellent overview of the general safety procedures related to bariatric surgery that are carried out at a number of selected U.S. hospitals.

The study concentrated on 684 hospitals in 19 states that have bariatric surgery programs, and focused on the data related to patient outcomes. Of the total 684 hospitals, a star rating for outstanding service was given to only 481 facilities. Under the HealthGrades star rating system, a 5-star rating goes to those facilities that have fewer than expected complications arising from surgery; a 3-star rating is given to hospitals that carry out their responsibilities as expected and nothing more; and a 1-star rating is for those hospitals that have a higher rate of surgical complications than are expected.

In the HealthGrades study, the 5-star rating was given to 92 hospitals that perform bariatric surgery; the 3-star award went to 284 hospitals; and the 1-star rating went to 105 hospitals which had performed far below expectations.

Other significant findings in the study revealed:

  • If the bariatric programs studied each had a 5-star rating, in-hospital complications could have been reduced or eliminated for as many as 5,046 weight loss surgery patients.
  • Individuals who opted for bariatric surgery at a 5-star rated hospital had an average of 43% fewer complications than patients who selected 3-star rated hospitals, and 67% fewer complications than those people who had their procedures done at 1-star rated hospitals.
  • In terms of required hospital stays, the 5-star hospitals kept patients for an average of 2 days following their surgery, while the 3-star hospitals required patients to stay for an average 2.21 days, and the 1-star hospitals kept their patients for 2.46 days.
  • Those hospitals that performed the most bariatric surgeries had the fewest complications. On average, 5-star hospitals conducted an average of 646 surgeries annually, while 1-star hospitals reported 384 cases on an annual basis.
  • Hemorrhage was the complication most frequently reported.
Of the accepted treatments for morbid obesity, bariatric surgery is regarded to be the most effective over the long-term, but it carries risks. The choice of the facility for weight loss surgery has a major impact on the overall success of the procedure, as the HealthGrade study proves. People who are considering bariatric surgery are well-advised to choose their bariatric surgery program and the associated hospital with great care.


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