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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
13-Nov-2006

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Contact: Scott Shapiro
sshapiro@healthgrades.com
720-963-6584
HealthGrades

Bariatric surgery complication rates high in some hospitals, new HealthGrades ratings and study show

Complications of bariatric surgery include respiratory, bleeding and cardiac complications -- mortality rate 2 per 1,000

GOLDEN, Colo. (November 13, 2006) -- In-hospital bariatric surgery complication rates vary dramatically among the nation's hospitals, according to a study released today by HealthGrades, the leading healthcare ratings company. The study of 86,520 bariatric-surgery procedures performed over the years 2002 through 2004 finds that a typical patient receiving the procedure in a five-star rated hospital would have, on average, a 66 percent lower chance of developing one or more major inhospital complications compared with a one-star rated hospital.

Based on the study, HealthGrades, for the first time, today posted quality ratings for hospitals in 17 states that perform bariatric surgery on its consumer Web site, HealthGrades.com. Hospitals received a five-, three- or one-star rating that reflected their complication rates for bariatric surgery, also known as weight-loss surgery, obesity surgery and gastric-bypass surgery.

The HealthGrades study comes on the heels of a study published in July by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which found that four of every ten patients undergoing bariatric surgery develop complications within six months.

The percentage of U.S. adults who are obese has doubled in the last thirty years, reaching 30 percent according to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. The number of bariatric surgeries in America are increasing dramatically as well, with the volume growing 34 percent from 2002 to 2004 in the 17 states studied. Experts attribute a growing proportion of the nation's healthcare bill to overweight and obesity, reaching 9.1 percent of U.S. medical costs, or $78 billion, in the most recent study.

The first annual HealthGrades Bariatric Surgery Trends in American Hospitals Study found that:

"It is predicted that more than 200,000 bariatric surgeries will be performed in 2006, but this study shows very clearly that not all hospitals perform the procedure with the same level of quality," said Samantha Collier, MD, HealthGrades senior vice president of medical affairs. "That's to be expected in a relatively new procedure that has grown so quickly in recent years, but it makes it necessary for consumers to carefully research the track record of hospitals before having the procedure performed."

Individuals contemplating bariatric surgery will find both quality and cost information at HealthGrades.com. In addition to the free quality ratings of bariatric surgery at hospitals in 17 states, Web site visitors can also research surgeons who perform bariatric surgery to find the one that is right for them. Medical-cost reports that detail all of the costs, including out-of-pocket expenses, for the procedure, are also available on HealthGrades.com.

Methodology
For this study, HealthGrades analyzed 86,520 bariatric procedures performed in the years 2002, 2003 and 2004. To make accurate and valid comparisons of clinical outcomes at different hospitals with different patient characteristics, HealthGrades risk adjusted the data using multivariate logistic regression-based ratings to account for age, gender and underlying medical conditions that could increase the patient's risk of mortality or complication.

To conduct its study, HealthGrades used all-payer data from the 17 state government agencies that collect it from hospitals and release it for analysis. Those states include: Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

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The full study and individual hospital ratings for bariatric surgery and other procedures can be found at http://www.healthgrades.com.

About HealthGrades
Health Grades, Inc. (Nasdaq: HGRD) is the leading healthcare ratings organization, providing ratings and profiles of hospitals, nursing homes and physicians. Millions of consumers and many of the nation's largest employers, health plans and hospitals rely on HealthGrades' independent ratings and decision-support resources to make healthcare decisions based on the quality of care. More information on the company can be found at http://www.healthgrades.com.



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