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Bariatric Surgery Readmission Common in First Six Months

Data from 2001-2002 suggest that six-month complication rate is higher than post-surgical rate

TUESDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- The rate at which complications occur six months after bariatric surgery is nearly twice as high as during the initial surgical stay, according to a report in the August issue of Medical Care.

William Encinosa, Ph.D., of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in Rockville, Md., and colleagues examined insurance claims for 2,522 bariatric surgeries at 308 hospitals covered by large employers during 2001 and 2002. They then identified and reviewed outcomes, including complications and post-operative conditions, and cost.

The researchers found that the complication rate was 39.6 percent over the 180-day period following discharge, compared with 21.9 percent during the initial surgical stay. Overall, 18.2 percent of the patients made a post-operative trip to the hospital within six months. There were no differences noted between men and women, although the near-elderly had a 26 percent higher risk of complication than patients between the ages of 18 and 39 years. The total cost for patients who were readmitted within six months of the surgery was $65,031 compared with $27,125 for those who weren't readmitted.

"In contrast to current bariatric studies, which report a 20 percent in-hospital complication rate, we find a significantly higher complication rate over the six months after surgery, resulting in costly readmissions and emergency room visits. Thus, a clear way to reduce the costs and improve outcomes of bariatric surgery is to address the high rate of postoperative complications," the authors conclude.

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