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Published: Apr 7, 2006

By Tampa General Hospital


Tampa (Apr. 7, 2006) - Last year, Tampa General Hospital’s Bariatric Services program was the first in the nation to receive disease-specific certification from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations. Now the program has achieved another honor: designation as a Bariatric Center of Excellence by the American Society of Bariatric Surgery (ASBS). The TGH program is the only Bariatric Center of Excellence in Tampa and one of less than a dozen in the state. For a center to receive Center of Excellence designation, the institution must perform at least 125 bariatric surgeries a year, and each surgeon must have performed at least 125 bariatric surgeries while continuing to complete at least 50 each year. The Center must also have a dedicated multi-disciplinary team that includes surgeons, nurses, medical consultants, nutritionists, psychologists, and exercise physiologists. “Basically it means that our program goes far beyond the minimum requirements for excellence of care, patient education, and safety,” says Bariatric Services’ Medical Director, Dr. Michel Murr, associate professor of surgery with the University of South Florida College of Medicine. Having the designation is also a plus in terms of reimbursement. In February, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced it would cover bariatric surgery only at ASBS Centers of Excellence or American College of Surgeons Centers of Excellence. Nearly 1,000 patients have been surgically treated for obesity through TGH’s Bariatric Services program since it began in 1998. While gastric bypass, known as Roux-en-Y surgery, is the most prevalent type of surgery, the program also provides gastric banding. In this procedure, a band is placed around the esophagus (food pipe) to limit the amount of food that can pass into the stomach. Scientific evidence shows that bariatric surgery saves lives, according to Dr. Murr. “People with clinically severe obesity have a much higher mortality rate than those of normal weight,” he says. “Bariatric surgery significantly decreases the incidence of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis, and it considerably improves the quality of patients’ lives,” he says. The ASBS is a non-profit organization that works to advance the art and science of bariatric surgery and is committed to educating medical professionals and the public about bariatric surgery as a treatment option for morbid obesity. The organization also encourages its members to investigate and discover new advances in bariatric surgery while maintaining an exchange of experiences and ideas that may lead to improved surgical outcomes for patients.