Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Centers of Excellence--Same death and complication rates...

Some insurance companies require that you go through a Center of Excellence for them to cover bariatric procedures. Why is that? Well, we assume it is because they are the best of the best and really know their stuff, right?? And, by that way of thinking, you'd also expect much lower rates for complications and deaths as a postop. BUT, according to a recent study by Dr. Edward Livingston of the University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine, that is NOT the case! He writes, "Designation as a bariatric surgery center of excellence does not ensure better outcomes."

Livingston's study, which appears in The Archives of Surgery, analyzed data from patients who had surgery in 2005--19363 total patients and 5420 who utilized a center of excellence. Of those people, the patients who had surgery at a bariatric center of excellence had a death rate of 0.17% and a complication rate of 6.3%. Of the patients who did NOT use a bariatric center of excellence, the rates were a death rate of .09% and a complication rate of 6.4%. So, despite the fact that centers of excellence are usually better staffed and more costly to run, their outcomes are not better! The extra cost is apparently not warranted.

This information is quoted in a Reuters news article.

Did you have to use a bariatric center of excellence? Was it your insurance company's stipulation? or was it the only choice in your area? When you compare your experience with that of others, do you think things were better or went more smoothly? Do you think it made a difference?

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