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Durham, N.C. -- The Duke Weight Loss Surgery Center at Duke Regional Hospital has been named an American Society for Bariatric Surgery (ASBS) Center of Excellence. The ASBS Center of Excellence designation recognizes surgical programs with a demonstrated track record of favorable outcomes in bariatric surgery.

"We are pleased to have been recognized for our contributions to this field and for providing the highest quality in patient care," said Dr. Eric DeMaria, director of Bariatric Surgery and vice chair of Network General Surgery at Duke University Health System.

To earn a Center of Excellence designation, Duke Weight Loss Surgery Center underwent a series of site inspections during which all aspects of the program's surgical processes were closely examined and data on health outcomes were collected. Duke Weight Loss Surgery Center and other centers receiving the Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence designation agree to continue to share information on clinical pathways, protocols, and outcomes data.

Obesity has become a significant national health issue, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that 64 percent of all U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Morbid obesity is closely correlated with a number of serious conditions that severely undermine the health of overweight patients, including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

According to a study released in July 2005 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the number of bariatric surgeries performed in the United States more than quadrupled between 1998 and 2002 – to 71,733 from 13,386. Faced with clinical evidence that the most experienced and best-run bariatric surgery programs have by far the lowest rates of complications, the ASBS Centers of Excellence program was created to recognize bariatric surgery centers that perform well and to help surgeons and hospitals continue to improve the quality and safety of care provided.

Bariatric surgery, when performed correctly, can help obese patients manage these conditions. "At Duke Weight Loss Surgery Center, our focus is on improving the lives of our patients," DeMaria said. "We take a multidisciplinary approach for each patient, offering extensive education and counseling and a high commitment to patient follow-up and outcomes."

In fiscal year 2004 bariatric surgeons at Durham Regional Hospital performed approximately 350 surgeries. Surgeons perform two bariatric procedures: the laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (Lap-Band®).

According to Surgical Review Corporation, a not-for-profit organization that works in concert with the ASBS to inspect and evaluate candidates for the Center of Excellence designation, surgeons with ASBS Centers of Excellence designation practice only top-quality care, ensuring efficacy of the procedure with each patient to the best of their abilities.

"Due to the increasing prevalence of morbid obesity and the inherent risks of this disease combined with the opportunities available to greatly improve the health of this patient population, we recognize the need to implement a systematic approach to improving quality," DeMaria said. "We believe that the ASBS Centers of Excellence program will serve as a catalyst, driving strong programs to get even better."

About American Society for Bariatric Surgery

The American Society for Bariatric Surgery (ASBS) is the largest society for this specialty in the world. Founded in 1983, foremost American surgeons have formed the society's leadership and have established an organization with educational and support programs for surgeons and allied health professionals. The purpose of the society is to advance the art and science of bariatric surgery by continued encouragement of its members to: pursue investigations in both the clinic and the laboratory; interchange ideas, information and experience pertaining to bariatric surgery; promote guidelines for ethical patient selection and care; develop educational programs for physicians, paramedical persons, and lay people; and promote outcome studies and quality assurance.

About Surgical Review Corporation

Surgical Review Corporation (SRC) is an independent not-for-profit organization dedicated to surgical excellence. SRC's mission is to promote the delivery of surgical care with the highest levels of efficacy, efficiency and safety possible. For more information about SRC or to download a Center of Excellence application, visit www.surgicalreview.org.