Research & Stats

Bariatric Surgeries Skyrocket, But Quality and Cost Vary Widely at U.S. Hospitals

Bariatric Surgeries Skyrocket, But Quality and Cost Vary Widely at U.S. Hospitals
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Hospital Recipients
Press Release
Bariatrics is the branch of medicine that deals with the causes, prevention and treatment of obesity. Bariatric surgery directed at reducing caloric intake and controlling obesity has been on the rise for over twenty years. In this report, HealthGrades examines recent trends in obesity and bariatric surgery in the U.S. This analysis identifies patient outcomes for inpatient bariatric surgery using three years of data (2006-2008) from 19 all-payer states where data are publicly available.

HealthGrades evaluated hospital bariatric surgery programs based on their risk-adjusted inhospital complications and assigned a 5-star (best performance), 3-star (as expected performance) or 1-star (poor performance) rating. Out of the 684 hospitals initially evaluated in this study, 481 hospitals met the volume criteria of 30 cases over the three years and five cases in 2008 to receive a star rating.

HealthGrades’ ratings of these 481 hospitals, based on The Fifth Annual HealthGrades Bariatric Surgery Trends in American Hospitals Study, can be found at For bariatric surgery:

92 hospitals (19.13%) stand out as “best” performers (5-star rated)
284 hospitals (59.04%) were rated as “as expected” performers (3-star rated)
105 hospitals (21.83%) were rated as “poor” performers (1-star rated)
Secondly, HealthGrades evaluated trends and outcomes in bariatric surgery procedures performed in the inpatient setting in hospitals located within 19 states. Procedure type and volume, payer type, and observed mortality and complication rates were also evaluated for trends. Below is a summary of the study findings:

The number of inpatient baratric surgery procedures is increasing.
A trend toward less-invasive laparoscopic procedures continues.
Most of the procedures were performed in five states (CA, NY, TX, PA, FL).
Bariatric patients stay in the hospital on average 2.2 days.
Bariatric patients are charged on average $38,254 for a laparoscopic procedure, but costs vary by state.
Hemorrhage was the most frequently occurring complication.
Hospitals with highest volume had lowest complication rates.
Fewer complications and shorter stays were seen at 5-star rated hospitals.
If all bariatric programs performed at the level of 5-star hospitals 5,046 patients could have potentially avoided a major inhospital complication, across the 19 states studied (2006 – 2008).


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