According to the agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have determined that the need for certification requirement for bariatric surgery facilities does not improve health outcomes. Therefore, they have decided to remove this requirement. The decision is highly opposed by both the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery who both believe that certification does affect the overall outcome of patients’ surgeries and post-op care.
The executive director of the American College of Surgeons believes that the standards needed for accreditation provide life-saving defenses for patients with Medicare or Medicaid who are at a higher risk of being morbidly obese and mortality then others who endure bariatric surgery. The ACS strongly suggests that patient still work to select accredited centers for their weight loss surgeries.
Many other professional groups disapprove of this change including the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American Society of Bariatric Physicians, Obesity Society, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. These accreditation supporters cite 10 individual studies that are relevant to the level of care leading to the safety of patients and their success. 7 of these 10 studies support accreditation.
According to the CMS, their evidence was provided by the Michigan Bariatric Surgery Collaborative who initiated the original motion to lift the certification requirement. These representatives cited data from three studies from 2009 to 2013 that showed no significant differences in complications and mortality between non-accredited and accredited facilities. They also cited restricted assess in rural areas as a reason to end the certification requirement.
The CMS said that their data including that of 12 other states then Michigan that demonstrated that accreditation programs didn’t have a benefit in terms of safety and outcome for weight loss surgery patients.
Ultimately, facilities that are accredited by the ACS/ASMBS pay nearly $6,400 a year for their services. Experts raise the question if money plays a major role in this decision. The CMS states that did not do the accreditation for care coverage, but for a better system of care for patients. They have determined it didn’t affect the care, so that’s why they made the decision they did.
These accreditation programs originated in order to correct problems in the system and to improve both safety and outcomes. Through research from various professional societies, it’s no surprise that accreditation remains important regardless of one association’s opinion.
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What lies ahead is yet to be determined. However, experts suggest anyone seeking out a facility for their weight loss surgery should still look for accredited facilities for the safest and most successful bariatric surgery experience. While the requirement has been lifted, the importance of safety still remains most important in terms of surgery of this nature.