Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Obese patients at much greater risk for costly surgical-site infections

Date:
May 20, 2011
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
Obese patients undergoing colon surgery are 60 percent more likely to develop dangerous and costly surgical-site infections than their normal-weight counterparts, new research suggests. These infections cost an average of $17,000 more per patient, extend hospital stays and leave patients at a three-times greater risk of hospital readmission.

Obese patients undergoing colon surgery are 60 percent more likely to develop dangerous and costly surgical-site infections than their normal-weight counterparts, new Johns Hopkins research suggests.

Related Articles


These infections, according to findings published in the journal Archives of Surgery, cost an average of $17,000 more per patient, extend hospital stays and leave patients at a three-times greater risk of hospital readmission.

"Obesity is a leading risk factor for surgical-site infections, and those infections truly tax the health care system," says Elizabeth C. Wick, M.D., an assistant professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the lead author of the study. "The burdens of caring for obese patients need to be better recognized."

To conduct the study, the Johns Hopkins team analyzed claims data from eight different Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance plans for partial or total colon removal surgeries performed on adults ages 18 to 64 between 2002 and 2008. They identified 7,020 patients, 1,243 of whom were obese. The researchers looked at 30-day infection rates and calculated total costs from all health care claims for 90 days following surgery.

Colon surgery -- performed to treat colon cancer, diverticulitis and inflammatory bowel disease -- costs roughly $300 more per obese patient, whether an infection occurred or not. Obese patients also had slightly longer hospital stays, regardless of infection.

The average cost of caring for a patient with a surgical-site infection was $32,182 compared to $15,131 for each patient who didn't get infected. Those with infections stayed in the hospital for an average of 9.5 days compared to 8.1 days for those who did not contract one. The probability of hospital readmission in infected patients was 27.8 percent versus 6.8 percent in non-infected patients. When they had to be readmitted, those who had surgical-site infections stayed an average of two days longer than those without.

Not only are these findings relevant to physicians who need to pay special heed to infections in heavier patients but, the authors argue, to policymakers who plan to mandate public reporting of hospitals' surgical-site infection rates. Some insurers, meanwhile, have begun to withhold payment from hospitals when patients develop these complications and other insurers have discussed similar penalties. None of these plans take into account the higher infection rates found in obese surgical patients, Wick says.

Wick and her colleagues worry that punishing hospitals for surgical-site infections in obese patients could lead to discrimination, with surgeons shying away from operating on the heaviest patients for fear of financial loss and public shaming. Hospitals in 2012 will be required to publicly release surgical-site infection rates. If a hospital treated fewer obese patients, she notes, it would likely have fewer reportable infections.

"Pay-for-performance policies in surgery should account for the increased risk of infection and the cost of caring for this population," she says. "Failure to consider these differences can lead to perverse incentives that may penalize surgeons who care for obese patients and may even affect obese patients' access to surgery."

Thirty-four percent of adults in the United States are now estimated to be obese (those with a body mass index above 30), up from just 15 percent a decade ago.

Other study authors, all from Johns Hopkins, include Kenzo Hirose, M.D.; Andrew D. Shore, Ph.D.; Jeanne M. Clark, M.D., M.P.H.; Susan L. Gearhart, M.D.; Jonathan Efron, M.D.; and Martin A. Makary, M.D., M.P.H.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Elizabeth C. Wick et al. Surgical Site Infections and Cost in Obese Patients Undergoing Colorectal Surgery. Arch Surg., May 16, 2011 DOI: 10.1001/archsurg.2011.117

Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Obese patients at much greater risk for costly surgical-site infections." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516161831.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (2011, May 20). Obese patients at much greater risk for costly surgical-site infections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516161831.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Obese patients at much greater risk for costly surgical-site infections." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516161831.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins