HealthGrades 2011 Bariatric Surgery Trends in American Hospitals

HealthGrades 2011 Bariatric Surgery Trends in American Hospitals

Bariatric surgery (weight‐loss surgery) is the only option that effectively treats morbid obesity in people for whom more conservative measures, such as diet, exercise, and medication have failed. The long‐term benefits of bariatric surgery include significant and sustainable long‐term weight loss, resolution of diabetes, reduction in cardiovascular disease risk, and decreased mortality.1

While the benefits of bariatric surgery may outweigh many of the risks, as with all surgeries, there are considerations for the patient. The short‐term risks of bariatric procedures include those associated with the procedure itself and the post‐operative period, such as hemorrhage (bleeding) and infection. Long‐term risks include nutritional deficiencies and device complications requiring a revision.

In order to have the best short‐term and long‐term outcomes, choosing the right provider is critical. To assist consumers with their provider selection, HealthGrades objectively evaluated the inhospital complications associated with providers in 19 states where data are publicly available.

This report includes an analysis of 193,518 bariatric surgery discharges from 2007 through 2009 and an analysis of the risk‐adjusted inhospital complications of 468 hospitals in 19 states. Risk adjustment allows for a valid comparison of hospitals taking into account the types of patients treated. Hospitals are rated as 5‐star (best), 3‐star (average), and 1‐star (poor). The individual hospital ratings can be found at where you can also read the full methodology.

To be included in the analysis, hospitals had to have a minimum of 30 cases over the three years and at least five cases in 2009. Of the 468 hospitals that met the volume criteria:

107 hospitals (22.86%) stand out as “best” performers (5‐star rated)

261 hospitals (55.76%) were rated “as expected” performers (3‐star rated) 100 hospitals (21.37%) were rated as “poor” performers (1‐star rated)

Weight Loss after Bariatric Surgery Shown to Improve Overall Health

The striking weight loss achieved after bariatric surgery (frequently equivalent to one‐third of a patient’s body weight or more) has been shown to rapidly improve the patient’s overall health status. Many patients are noted to have either significant improvement or to be completely cured of a variety of major health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea.2 Because of these favorable outcomes, the number of bariatric surgeries has continued to steadily increase in recent years. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, in 2009, there were 220,000 bariatric surgeries performed in the United States.3 This is 13 times the number performed in 1992.