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Surgical quality report

US bariatric surgery report evaluates hospital performance

Out of the 467 hospitals evaluated, 120 hospitals performed better than expected

A new report, released by Healthgrades, has assessed the performance of hospitals performing bariatric surgery in the US, which the authors believe will “provide important information to help patients improve the likelihood of a safe bariatric surgery experience”.

The “Healthgrades Bariatric Surgery Report 2013: Your Choices Influence Your Outcome”, includes hospitals performing three different surgeries for obesity; vertical sleeve gastrectomy, laparoscopic adjustable gastric band and laparoscopic gastric bypass.

"The Healthgrades report provides a risk-adjusted assessment of in-hospital complications following bariatric surgery that will help consumers compare all hospitals analysed that perform bariatric surgery on a level playing field," said Dr Arshad Rahim, Group Vice President, Quality Improvement and Innovation, Healthgrades. "Patients, together with their doctors, may use the information in this report to help insure they select hospitals with favourable in-hospital outcomes to ensure the best long term result of this important health decision."

The publication identifies four key issues for patients when thinking about bariatric surgery:

  • Bariatric surgery can be safe and effective. While all three surgical options had similar complication rates, they differed in the amount of weight loss. As a result, it is important for patients to understand their options in terms of risks and benefits.
  • Respiratory issues were the most common complication. Patients should discuss these risks with their doctor and care team. Together, they should have a plan to prevent them and to deal with them if they occur.
  • Hospitals with more experience had better results. The hospitals that performed higher numbers of the procedures had significantly lower complication rates.
  • Quality matters. Hospitals rated with 5 stars by Healthgrades had 71% lower complication rates than 1-star hospitals and 46% lower rates than 3-star hospitals after adjusting for patient risk factors. Before deciding on when and where to have surgery, patients should use this data to understand hospital relative performance.

The report analysed clinical outcomes of 204,069 bariatric surgery discharges from 467 hospitals in 18 states (representing 55% of the US population) where data are publicly available from 2009 through 2011. Healthgrades measured hospital performance based on risk-adjusted in-hospital complications--preventable problems patients had during their hospital stay.

Out of the 467 hospitals evaluated, 120 hospitals (25.7%) performed better than expected (5 stars) in bariatric surgery. If all hospitals from 2009 through 2011 had performed at the level of hospitals with 5-stars, 6,417 patients could have potentially avoided a major in-hospital complication, the report notes.

Healthgrades identified 48 of these 5-star hospitals as 2013 Bariatric Surgery Excellence Award recipients for their exceptional performance in bariatric surgery. These hospitals represent the top 10% of hospitals rated for bariatric surgery. They have the lowest bariatric surgery complication rates in the 18 states where data are publicly available.

For more information about Healthgrades, to see the complete list of hospitals recognized and related methodology, or to download a full copy of the report, click here.

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