When considering bariatric surgery, you may feel inclined to undergo your procedure at one of the surgical facilities designated by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery as a center of excellence. These bariatric surgery centers must meet specific standards, such as performing a set minimum number of operations per year and providing long-term patient follow-up. In fact, Medicare and Medicaid patients have no choice but to get their surgery at a center of excellence. However, recent research shows no notable benefits to opting for one of these facilities over a regular hospital.
Published earlier this spring in the Archives of Surgery, a study from the University of Texas Southwestern shows no significant difference in the complication and death rates between bariatric surgery centers and other hospitals. Analyzing more than 19,000 patients’ data, researchers found the complication rate for centers of excellence was 6.3%, while the rate at undesignated hospitals was 6.4%; the death rate was also very similar, at 0.17% to 0.09%.
Arguably, the biggest difference between the two was cost, with the centers for excellence charging about $500 more per patient.
“Designation as a bariatric surgery center of excellence does not ensure better outcomes; neither does high annual procedure volume,” explained study author Edward H. Livingston, MD. “Extra expenses associated with center of excellence designation may not be warranted.”
Regardless of what facility you choose, the likelihood of a safe, successful surgery goes up when you select a qualified, experienced surgeon with an individual record of excellence.
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