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Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
Date:4/21/2009

Study finds these units of excellence no better, more costly, than other hospitals

TUESDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Having bariatric surgery at hospitals designated as centers of excellence doesn't reduce a patient's risk of complications or death, a U.S. study finds.

Bariatric surgery restricts the amount of food a person can consume or digest.

To be designated centers of excellence by the American College of Surgeons or the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, bariatric surgery centers must meet certain guidelines, including: performing at least 125 operations per year; employing a bariatric surgery coordinator and personnel to do long-term follow-up on patients; and entering patient outcomes into proprietary databases, which requires trained staff and a subscription to a database.

Medicaid and Medicare patients are required to undergo bariatric surgery at designated centers of excellence, the researchers noted.

"These criteria make intuitive sense but lack an evidence base for their application," wrote study author Dr. Edward H. Livingston, of the University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine and Department of Veterans Affairs, Dallas.

He analyzed data on 19,363 U.S. patients who had bariatric surgery in 2005, including 5,420 (28 percent) who had their surgery at centers of excellence. Overall, 6.4 percent of the patients developed complications, and 0.1 percent died in the hospital.

At centers of excellence, 6.3 percent of patients developed complications and 0.17 percent died, compared with a 6.4 percent complication rate and a 0.09 percent death rate at other hospitals, the study found.

The average length of stay was 2.6 days at both centers of excellence and other hospitals, but average costs per patient were higher at centers of excellence -- $11,527 vs. $10,984.

The study was published in the April issue of the Archives of Sur
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