September 15, 2014
1 min read

Bariatric surgeries safer for patients at accredited facilities

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Patients who underwent weight loss surgery in accredited bariatric surgical centers were less likely to die in the hospital or experience serious complications compared with those whose procedures were performed at non-accredited facilities, according recent study findings.

Ninh T. Nguyen, MD, FACE, of the gastrointestinal surgery division at the University of California Irvine Health, Orange, Calif., and colleagues examined the outcomes of 775,040 bariatric surgical patients who underwent surgery from 2001 to 2010 to determine length of stay, risk-adjusted inpatient morbidity and mortality and cost among the two types of centers. In 2006, the CMS limited coverage for bariatric surgeries to only accredited facilities; this was overturned last year.  To limit variables resulting from improved procedure techniques, 259,000 non-Medicare patient outcomes across all facilities from 2006 to 2010 were independently examined as well.

Non-accredited surgical facilities had a higher in-hospital mortality rate compared with accredited facilities (OR=3.53; 95% CI, 1.01-6.52).

“The patient’s most important concern is, am I going to survive this operation?” Nguyen said in a press release. “We found that death is very uncommon when the operation takes place at an accredited facility, meaning it has met rigorous standards for high-quality surgical care.”

Medicare patients had a 59% mortality rate reduction after the CMS coverage decision in 2006 (0.56% vs. 0.23%; P<.01). Serious post-surgery complications decreased from 9.92% to 6.98% (P<.01), and the average hospital stay decreased from 4 days to 3 days. Additionally, use of weight loss surgery among Medicare beneficiaries increased by 71% following the policy change.

“I suggest that patients considering a bariatric operation look for, and go to, an accredited bariatric center,” Nguyen said in the release. “The accrediting body already did the homework for the patient. The patients essentially needs to ask only one question [to learn the facility’s capabilities]: Is this an MBSAQIP-accredited center?”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.