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Complications Resulting From Bariatric Surgery Vary With HealthGrades Ratings

dy found that four of every ten patients undergoing bariatric surgery develop complications within six months.

The percentage of U.S. adults who are obese has doubled in the last thirty years, reaching 30 percent, according to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. The number of bariatric surgeries in America are increasing dramatically as well, with the volume growing 34 percent from 2002 to 2004 in the 17 states studied. Experts attribute a growing proportion of the nation's healthcare bill to overweight and obesity, reaching 9.1 percent of U.S. medical costs, or $78 billion, in the most recent study.

The first annual HealthGrades Bariatric Surgery Trends in American Hospitals Study found that:

* Higher volume programs have better quality.

* Hospitals rated by HealthGrades with five stars for bariatric surgery had, on average, twice the number of procedures during the three-year study period compared to one-star rated hospitals (388 and 195, respectively)

* High quality programs have shorter hospital stays. The average length of stay was 21 percent shorter in five-star hospitals, as compared with the national average

* If all hospitals performed at the level of a five-star rated hospital, 3,297 out of the 86,520 patients studied could have potentially avoided one or more major in-hospital complications

* The most common major complications include respiratory, bleeding, and cardiac complications

* The average U.S. mortality rate during the study period was 0.19 percent, or two patients per 1000

(Half of all the procedures were performed in just four states -- New York, Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania -- although those states comprise 42 percent of the population of the 17 states studied; and Iowa, Maryland and Wisconsin had the largest growth in numbers of procedures performed, with almost twice as many cases in 2004 compared to 2002.)

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