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Complications and Costs for Obesity Surgery Declining
Date:4/28/2009

ROCKVILLE, Md., April 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new study by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that the average rate of post-surgical and other complications in patients who have obesity surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, declined 21 percent between 2002 and 2006. They also found that payments to hospitals dropped by as much as 13 percent for bariatric surgery patients during that time period, in part because fewer complications meant fewer readmissions.

The study, "Recent Improvements in Bariatric Surgery Outcomes," to be published in the May 2009 Medical Care, found that the complication rate among patients initially hospitalized for bariatric surgery dropped from approximately 24 percent to roughly 15 percent. Much of this was driven by a reduction in the post-surgical infection rate, which plummeted 58 percent. Abdominal hernias, staple leakage, respiratory failure and pneumonia fell by between 50 percent and 29 percent.

Rates for other complications, such as ulcers, dumping (involuntary vomiting or defecation), hemorrhage, wound reopening, deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, heart attacks and strokes remained relatively unchanged. With the exception of the 19 percent rate for dumping, which is especially a risk in gastric bypass surgery, rates ranged from 2.4 percent to 0.1 percent.

In addition, hospital payments for bariatric surgery patients, as a whole, fell from $29,563 to $27,905 and dropped from $41,807 to $38,175 for patients who experienced complications. Hospital payments for the most expensive patients -- those who had to be readmitted because of complications -- fell from $80,001 to $69,960.

"People considering an elective procedure need unbiased, science-based evidence of its benefits and risks," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "All surgeries involve risks, but as newer technologies emerge an
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SOURCE Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality
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