Is Bariatric Surgery Safe in Academic Centers?

Lopez, Jose; Sung, Jimmy; Anderson, Wayne; Stone, Jack; Gallagher, Scott; Shapiro, David; Rosemurgy, Alex; Murr, Michel M.
September 2002
American Surgeon;Sep2002, Vol. 68 Issue 9, p820
Academic Journal
Contemporary outcomes of bariatric surgery are not well defined. Our aim was to document the outcomes of bariatric surgery on the basis of surgeon caseload and affiliation. We analyzed prospectively collected Florida-wide hospital discharge data. Forty-four surgeons undertook bariatric surgery in 933 patients during 1999. The ten surgeons who averaged more than two operations/month undertook 764 operations; 162 (17%) were done by academic surgeons. Complications [14% vs 7% (P = 0.008, chi-square)], length of stay (5 ± 0.7 vs 4 ± 0.1 days), and hospital charges (in thousands) ($31 ± 4.0 vs $24 ± 0.4) were greater in academic than in community-based centers (P < 0.05, Wilcoxon rank-sum). However, 36 per cent of patients operated upon by academic surgeons had a high Severity Index compared with only 16 per cent of patients operated upon by community-based surgeons (P < 0.001, chi-square). In high-risk patients complications (40% vs 46%), length of stay (7 ± 1.0 vs 6 ± 0.4 days), and hospital charges (in thousands) ($42 ± 6 vs $35 ± 2) were similar between academic and community-based surgeons. We conclude that outcomes of bariatric surgery in high-risk patients are similar among academic and community-based surgeons. Academic surgeons undertake bariatric surgery in high-risk patients more frequently than community-based surgeons, which underlies their increased complication rate. These prospectively collected data reflect surgical outcomes more accurately than clinical series and will impact our practice of bariatric surgery.


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