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Hospital-acquired conditions after bariatric surgery: we can predict, but can we prevent?



Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services initiated a non-payment policy for certain hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) in 2008. This study aimed to determine the rate of the three most common HACs (surgical site infection (SSI), urinary tract infection (UTI), and venous thromboembolism (VTE)) among bariatric surgery patients. Additionally, the association of HACs with patient factors and the effect of HACs on post-operative outcomes were investigated.


Patients over 18 years with a body mass index (BMI) ≥35 who underwent bariatric surgery were identified using the American College of Surgeons’ National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS-NSQIP) database (2005–2012). Patients were grouped into two categories: HAC versus no HAC patients and baseline characteristics and outcomes, including 30-day mortality, reoperation, and mean length of stay (LOS) were compared. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to identify the risk factors for developing a HAC.


98,553 patients were identified, 2,809 (2.9 %) developed at least one HACs. SSI was the most common HAC (1.8 %), followed by UTI (0.7 %) and VTE (0.4 %). The rate of these HACs significantly decreased from 4.6 % in 2005–2006 to 2.5 % in 2012 (p < 0.001). Laparoscopic gastric banding was associated with the lowest rates of HAC (1.3 %) and open gastric bypass with the highest (8.0 %). HAC patients had significantly higher rates of in-hospital mortality (0.8 vs. 0.1 %, p < 0.001) and LOS (3.9 vs. 2.1 days, p < 0.001). On adjusted analysis, open GBP patients had 5.36-fold higher odds of developing a HAC. Interestingly, the presence of a resident surgeon 7–11 years post graduation was associated with significantly increased odds of HACs (1.86, 1.50–2.31, p < 0.001).


Our data demonstrate a strong correlation between these three HACs following bariatric surgery and factors intrinsic to the bariatric patient population. This calls into question the non-payment policy for inherent patient factors on which they cannot have impact. These findings are important to help inform health care policy decisions regarding access to care for bariatric surgery patients.

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Mr. Edwin Lewis provided generous support of Dr. Lidor’s Department of Surgery Research Fund.


The authors Anne O Lidor, Erin Moran-Atkin, Miloslawa Stem, Thomas H Magnuson, Kimberley E Steele, Richard Feinberg, Michael A Schweitzer have no conflict of interest to disclose.

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Correspondence to Anne O. Lidor.

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Meeting Presentation: Podium presentation at Scientific Session of the SAGES 2014 Annual Meeting, held April 2-5, 2014 at the Salt Lake Convention Center in Salt Lake City, UT.

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Lidor, A.O., Moran-Atkin, E., Stem, M. et al. Hospital-acquired conditions after bariatric surgery: we can predict, but can we prevent?. Surg Endosc 28, 3285–3292 (2014).

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  • Hospital-acquired conditions
  • Obesity
  • Bariatric surgery
  • Outcomes
  • Non-reimbursement
  • Surgical site infection