UAB Medicine

May 24, 2013

UAB Gains National Accreditation for Bariatric Center

The  UAB Hospital Bariatric Surgery Program has been reaccredited as a Level 1 facility under the Bariatric Surgery Center Network (BSCN) Accreditation Program of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). The accreditation demonstrates the surgery center’s commitment to delivering the highest quality care for its bariatric surgery patients.

To earn the accreditation, the UAB Hospital Bariatric Surgery Programmet the essential criteria that ensure its ability to support a bariatric surgical care program and the institutional performance requirements outlined by the BSCN Accreditation Standards. Accredited bariatric surgery centers provide both the hospital resources necessary for optimal care of morbidly obese patients and the support and resources necessary to address the entire spectrum of care and needs of bariatric patients, both pre- and postoperatively.

Dr. Richard Stahl, MD, said that this is the highest level designation that any hospital offering bariatric surgery to patients can receive. The designation allows the program to provide their full range of bariatric services to patients.

“It also gives our patients peace of mind,” said Stahl. “It’s not just us saying we are the best but someone else that has no affiliation with UAB.”

Bariatric Surgery Centers that are accredited under ACS BSCN program standards are part of the Metabolic Bariatric Surgery Accreditation Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) administered by the American College of Surgeons. In March 2012, the ACS and American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) announced plans to combine their respective national bariatric surgery accreditation programs into a single unified program to achieve one national accreditation standard for bariatric surgery centers. That transition is now in process.

ACS BSCN accreditation is awarded in categories, each with its own criteria that must be met. Facilities undergo a site visit by an experienced bariatric surgeon, who reviews the facilities’ structure, process, and data quality. Because optimal surgical care requires documentation using reliable outcomes measures, accredited bariatric surgery centers are required to report their outcomes data to the MBSAQIP Data Registry Platform.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has recognized the Bariatric Surgery Program at UAB and allows expanded Medicare coverage of bariatric surgery for beneficiaries of all ages who have been diagnosed with other health problems associated with obesity. Medicare coverage has been limited to procedures performed in facilities accredited by the American College of Surgeons or the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

Deborah Thedford, RN, MSN, CWOCN and the Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at UAB Hospital, said that this reaccreditation helps UAB because they are able to continue serving their Medicaid and Medicare patients. Without it their patients would be required to pay for their surgery on their own, which can be expensive.

In the United States, more than 15 million people suffer from severe obesity, and the numbers continue to increase. Obesity increases the risks of morbidity and mortality because of the diseases and conditions that are commonly associated with it, such as type II diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, among other health risks. At the present time, weight-loss surgery is one successful way to provide lasting relief from severe obesity. Therefore, the ACS believes it is of utmost importance to extend its quality initiatives to accrediting bariatric surgery centers so that it can assist the public in identifying those facilities that provide optimal surgical care for patients who undergo this surgical procedure.   

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational association of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical education and practice and to improve the quality of care for the surgical patient. Its achievements have placed it at the forefront of American surgery and have made the College an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 79,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

To learn more about bariatric surgery at UAB Medicine, visit