Public Release: 

Miriam Hospital among first in US to earn new designation for quality bariatric surgery

Blue Distinction Center+ designation recognizes patient safety


PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island has awarded The Miriam Hospital a Blue Distinction Center+ (BDC) designation for bariatric surgery. A designation by the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program, BDCs are nationally designated health care facilities that deliver quality specialty care based on objective measures for patient safety and better health outcomes. The objective measures are developed with input from the medical community.

"The Center for Bariatric Surgery features a dedicated team of specialists - from surgeons, physicians, and nurse practitioners to behavioral therapists, nutritionists, physical therapists and nurses - all with expertise in weight loss surgery - and all committed to working alongside patients to achieve each patient's goals," said Siva Vithiananthan, M.D, chief of minimally invasive and bariatric surgery at the Center for Bariatric Surgery, a program of Rhode Island and The Miriam Hospitals. "The Blue Distinction Center+ designation supports the comprehensive care and exceptional outcomes we deliver to bariatric patients throughout Rhode Island and surrounding communities."

To receive a Blue Distinction Center+ for Bariatric Surgery designation, a health care facility must demonstrate success in meeting patient safety and bariatric-specific quality measures, including complications and readmissions, for gastric stapling and/or gastric banding procedures. A health care facility must also have earned national accreditations at both the facility level and the bariatric care-specific level, as well as demonstrate better cost efficiency relative to its peers.

The Center for Bariatric Surgery has been a Center of Excellence in Bariatric Surgery since 2011 and was reaccredited in 2014 by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). The MBSAQIP program accredits inpatient and outpatient bariatric surgery centers in the U.S. and Canada that have undergone an independent, voluntary, and rigorous peer evaluation in accordance with nationally recognized bariatric surgical standards. Bariatric surgery accreditation not only promotes uniform standard benchmarks, but also supports continuous quality improvement.

Patients at The Center for Bariatric Surgery benefit from a full complement of services that includes medical weight management as well as bariatric surgery, and can expect coordinated, personalized care by a surgical team with 40 years of cumulative experience. Services and specialized features include:

  • Coordinated preoperative and long-term nutritional and behavioral modification programs.

  • A full complement of bariatric surgeries, including sleeve gatrectomy, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, gastric band, and revisional surgeries.

  • Team of bariatric surgeons available 24/7 for care of all bariatric patients.

  • State-of-the-art laparoscopic and minimally invasive technologies.

  • Free, multidisciplinary, professionally coordinated patient support groups.

  • Highly trained operating room personnel and certified nursing staff.

Bariatric surgeries are among the most common elective surgeries in the U.S., which provides a significant opportunity to improve quality and efficiency within the health care system. There were 179,000 bariatric surgeries performed in 2013, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

It is estimated that 72 million Americans are obese and 24 million suffer from morbid obesity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illnesses are $190.2 billion, or nearly 21 percent of annual medical spending in the U.S., according to the Journal of Health Economics.

Research shows that facilities designated as Blue Distinction Centers+ demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients compared with their peers. On average, Blue Distinction Centers+ are also 20 percent more cost efficient than non-BDC+ designated health care facilities.

"Our expert team at The Center for Bariatric Surgery works one on one with patients with obesity or obesity-related diseases to offer quality, safe, effective, and long-lasting surgical treatment options," said Arthur J. Sampson, president of The Miriam Hospital, "and The Miriam Hospital is proud to be recognized by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island for that continued commitment to patient care."

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality providers for their specialty care needs in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery, and transplants while encouraging healthcare professionals to improve the care they deliver. For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, please visit


About The Miriam Hospital

The Miriam Hospital is a 247-bed, not-for-profit teaching hospital affiliated with The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. It offers expertise in cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, men's health, and minimally invasive surgery and is home to the state's first Joint Commission-certified Stroke Center and robotic surgery program. The hospital, which received more than $27 million in external research funding last year, is nationally known for its HIV/AIDS and behavioral and preventive medicine research, including weight control, physical activity and smoking cessation. The Miriam Hospital has been awarded Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services four times and is a founding member of the Lifespan health system. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@MiriamHospital) and Pinterest .

About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is the state's leading health insurer and covers more than 550,000 members. The company is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @BCBSRI, and like us on Facebook at

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 37 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for nearly 105 million members - one in three Americans. For more information on the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog, for up-to-date information about BCBSA.

About Blue Distinction Centers

Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers' need for affordable healthcare. Individual outcomes may vary. National criteria is displayed on A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for facilities located in its own service area. For details on Local Blue Plan Criteria, a provider's in-network status, or your own policy's coverage, contact your Local Blue Plan. Each facility's cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan. Facilities in CA, ID, NY, PA, and WA may lie in two Local Blue Plans' areas, resulting in two evaluations for cost of care; and their own Local Blue Plans decide whether one or both cost of care evaluation(s) must meet BDC+ national criteria. Neither Blue Cross Blue Shield Association nor any Blue Plans are responsible for damages or non-covered charges resulting from Blue Distinction or other provider finder information or care received from Blue Distinction or other providers.

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