Bariatric surgery to increase bottom line?

As obesity rates in America continue to skyrocket, more and more patients are turning to bariatric surgery as a last resort. The growing popularity of obesity surgery has caused many hospitals to explore the option of opening their own surgery program. It can be a very profitable venture: The typical surgery runs $25,000 and is often covered by insurers. Thinking that it could add to its bottom line, Arkansas-based Northwest Medical Center opened a bariatric program in 2004 to serve severely overweight patients. But after performing just 25 surgeries, the hospital shuttered the program due to staff complaints that patients required more care than they could give.

Severely obese patients are predisposed to a wide range of complications not seen in other cases. The CEO of the hospital admitted that when the hospital opened the program, no one fully understood how difficult it would be. The hospital has learned its lesson from its first go-around with bariatric surgery and plans to restart the program. Bariatric procedures are popular, profitable and on the rise, but hospitals shouldn't underestimate how much support patients will require from their staff.

For more on bariactric surgery:
- read this Modern Healthcare article

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