News Briefs

Fewer complications for bariatric high performers

The number of bariatric surgeries in the United States skyrocketed from 13,386 in 1998 to 220,000 in 2008. But a new study released by Golden, CO-based HealthGrades finds that the nation's hospitals have wide variances in both complication rates and lengths of stay, which largely correlate with the number of times the hospital performs bariatric procedures.

According to the study, patients undergoing bariatric surgery at hospitals rated with five stars by HealthGrades experienced, on average, 43% fewer complications and 10% less time in the hospitals than patients at average hospitals.

Hospitals receiving a five-star rating in bariatric surgery have complication rates that are, to a statistically significant degree, lower than expected based on their patient population. Hospitals receiving a three-star rating performed as expected, and those receiving a one-star rating have complication rates that are higher than expected to a statistically significant degree.

The study found that:

  • Patients having bariatric surgery at five-star-rated hospitals are 42.66% less likely to experience in-hospital complications than patients at three-star-rated programs, and 66.55% less likely compared to one-star-rated programs.
  • Five-star-rated hospitals had an average case volume of 646 surgeries performed over three years, while one-star-rated hospitals averaged 384 cases.
  • While in-hospital mortality is generally an uncommon complication, patients had ,on average, a four times higher risk of dying if they had a bariatric surgery performed at one-star-rated hospitals compared to five-star-rated hospitals.
  • If all bariatric programs from 2006 through 2008 had performed at the level of five-star-rated hospitals, 5,046 patients could have potentially avoided a major in-hospital complication across the 19 states studied.
  • Patients having surgery at five-star-rated hospitals spent, on average, less time in the hospital (two days) compared to patients treated in three-star-rated hospitals (2.21 days), and almost a half a day less than patients having surgery in one-star-rated hospitals (2.48 days).
  • Bariatric Centers of Excellence (COE) were more likely to receive a five-star rating than non-COE programs (25.6% of COE programs were five-star rated while only 10.9% of non-COE programs received a five-star rating).

The full study and individual hospital ratings for bariatric surgery and other procedures can be found at

PA hospitals lead in preventing CLABSI

Data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that Pennsylvania continues to be a leader in the prevention of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs), with Pennsylvania's hospitals reporting infection rates below the national average for the first six months of 2009. Pennsylvania's standardized infection ratio is 0.70, significantly below the national average of 0.82. (The infection data can be found in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report