Study: Top hospitals offer 67 percent lower complication rates for bariatric surgery

A new study from health ratings organization HealthGrades suggests that patients receiving bariatric surgery at hospitals achieving its best ratings are 67 percent less likely to see complications than those receiving its lowest ratings. The study also concluded that rates for bariatric surgery vary dramatically across the U.S.

To conduct its study, HealthGrades evaluated the quality of bariatric surgery services in hospitals in 19 states that provide data from all payers. HealthGrades focused on the most common procedures, including gastric bypass procedures, and less-invasive laparoscopic procedures such as gastric banding, plus combinations of malabsorbtive and restrictive procedures.

As is often the case with surgical procedures generally, higher-volume ranked better than lower volume programs, with those handling greater than 375 cases over three years having a 32 percent lower risk of complications than those with less than 75 cases over three years.

Patients at five-star hospitals spent, on average, more than half a day less in the hospital (2.15 days) than patients in one-star hospitals. Patients had a three-times lower in-hospital death rate associated with bariatric surgery if it was performed at a five-star hospital versus a one-star hospital.

Meanwhile, costs for the procedure varied enormously, with California at the top with an average charge per procedure of $52,224 and Maryland at the bottom at an average charge per procedure of $14,577.

To get more data from the study, and see the original data:
- read this HealthGrades press release (.pdf)

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