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Patients Had Fewer Infection Rates, Fewer Complications at Blue Distinction Centers for Bariatric Surgery(R), According to HealthCore Study
Date:4/23/2009

Surge in number of facilities offering weight loss surgery, more people choosing laparoscopic surgery

WILMINGTON, Del., April 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Medical centers offering surgical weight loss programs have increased dramatically over the past few years, and it's more important than ever to know which ones produce the best results.

Members of WellPoint's affiliated health plans undergoing weight loss surgery at facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers for Bariatric Surgery(R) had fewer complications and dramatically lower infection rates than those treated at non-designated centers, according to a study completed by HealthCore, WellPoint's health outcomes research subsidiary.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association created the Blue Distinction Centers for Bariatric Surgery program in 2006 to identify and promote use of medical centers with the best outcomes for bariatric surgical procedures.

Blue Distinction centers had 28 percent fewer surgical complications and 60 percent fewer inpatient and outpatient infections than non-designated facilities in the 30-day period following surgery, according to the HealthCore study, which compared health records of 4,479 patients undergoing bariatric procedures in 14 states in 2007.

Open gastric bypass surgeries had the greatest risk of complications--19 percent for non-designated centers and 12 percent for designated centers in the 30-day period following surgery. Complications include conditions such as hemorrhage, internal bleeding and infections.

"This population-based study shows how important it is for consumers to be well informed when they are choosing where to get their surgery," said Dr. Lisa Latts, WellPoint vice president of programs for clinical excellence. "Because the number of facilities offering this service has increased so dramatically, we want to make sure consumers know where they are most like
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SOURCE HealthCore and WellPoint, Inc
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