Bariatric Surgery Patients Treated at 5 Star Hospitals 69.7% Less Likely to Experience Inhospital Complications than Patients at 1 Star Programs

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HealthGrades Finds 5.88% of Patients Experienced One or More Complications

A report released today by HealthGrades, the nation’s most trusted, independent source of physician information and hospital quality outcomes, found that bariatric surgery patients have a nearly 70% lower risk of experiencing an inhospital complication at top-rated hospitals compared to poorly-rated hospitals. The findings are from HealthGrades 2011 Bariatric Surgery Trends in American Hospitals report, which analyzed 193,518 bariatric surgery patient records from 2007 through 2009, including 468 hospitals in 19 states where data is publically available. Local hospital ratings and study methodology are available at

Bariatric surgery, also known as weight-loss surgery, is the only option that effectively treats morbid obesity in people for whom more conservative measures, such as diet, exercise, and medication have failed. The long‐term benefits of bariatric surgery include significant and sustainable long‐term weight loss, resolution of diabetes, reduction in cardiovascular disease risk, and decreased mortality.

Due to these health benefits, the prevalence of Americans undergoing such procedures is on the rise. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, there were 220,000 bariatric surgeries performed in the United States in 2009. This is 13 times the number performed in 1992.

However, while the benefits of bariatric surgery may outweigh many of the risks, as with all surgeries, there are considerations for the patient. The HealthGrades report helps patients identify long-term and short-term risks found in patients who opt for the surgery, and helps them identify the hospital programs in their area whose patient outcomes minimize the risks of such complications.

“Given the huge gap in quality between 5-star bariatric surgery programs and 1-star programs, choosing the right provider is critical,” said Dr. Rick May, HealthGrades Vice President of Accelerated Clinical Excellence. “The decision to undergo major surgery is never an easy one, and a procedure is never guaranteed to be complication-free. But with the help of HealthGrades bariatric surgery program ratings, patients can optimize their chances for receiving the highest possible quality of care.”

Key findings of the HealthGrades 2011 Bariatric Surgery Trends in American Hospitals report include:

  •     Patients having bariatric surgery at 5‐star hospitals are: 69.70% less likely to experience inhospital complications than patients at 1‐star programs.
  •     If all hospitals in the 19 states studied from 2007 through 2009 had performed at the level of 5‐star hospitals: 5,231 patients could have potentially avoided a major inhospital complication.
  •     Patients having a bariatric procedure at a 5‐star facility spent, on average, a half-day less in the hospital than patients having their procedure at a 1‐star facility (1.93 days versus 2.38 days respectively).
  •     Cost varies widely by state. California is the most expensive state for bariatric surgery, with an average charge of $65,251, while Maryland is the least expensive, with an average charge of $16,390.

HealthGrades Hospital Ratings
HealthGrades Bariatric Surgery in American Hospitals report analyzed 193,518 bariatric surgery discharges from 2007 through 2009, from 468 hospitals in 19 states. Risk adjustment allows for a valid comparison of hospitals taking into account the types of patients treated. Hospitals are rated as 5‐star (best), 3‐star (average), and 1‐star (poor). To be included in the analysis, hospitals had to have a minimum of 30 cases over the three years and at least five cases in 2009. HealthGrades hospital ratings are independently created; no hospital can opt in or opt out of being rated, and no hospital pays to be rated. The full methodology and individual hospital ratings can be found at

About HealthGrades
HealthGrades is America's most trusted, independent source of physician information and hospital quality
outcomes. HealthGrades online properties are the nation's leading destination for physician search and
empower more than 200 million consumers annually to make informed health care decisions.

Editor’s note: A full copy of the study and methodology is available at or by contacting Marsha Austin at maustin(at)healthgrades(dot)com.


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Marsha Austin
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