Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Emory Bariatrics Program Receives Level 1 Accreditation from American College of Surgeons

The Emory Bariatric Center at Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Midtown Atlanta has been accredited as a Level 1 Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by the Bariatric Surgery Center Network (BSCN) Accreditation Program of the American College of Surgeons (ACS).

Established by the American College of Surgeons, the BSCN Accreditation Program provides confirmation that a bariatric surgery center has demonstrated its commitment to providing the highest quality care for its bariatric surgery patients.

"The American College of Surgeons accreditation is the most rigorous of its kind, and receiving this endorsement is an incredible achievement to be shared and celebrated by our team," says Edward Lin, MD, surgical director of the Emory Bariatrics Center. "We absolutely recognize morbid obesity as a serious disease that compromises quality of life and greatly increases the risk of mortality. This program approaches bariatric surgery from a complete interdisciplinary approach, with input from a wide array of experts who provide in-depth medical care, education, behavior modifications, psychological counseling and support before, during and after the surgery."

According to Emory Crawford Long Hospital Chief Operating Officer Dane Peterson, this designation means that Emory has met the essential criteria that ensures it is fully capable of supporting a bariatric surgery care program and that its institutional performance meets the requirements outlined by the ACS BSCN Accreditation Program.

"A tremendous amount of time and effort by many dedicated physicians, nursing and staff members have led to this successful accreditation," says Peterson. "This gold seal of approval now lets our patients and the communities we serve know that we provide the support and resources that are necessary to address the entire spectrum of care and needs of bariatric patients--from the pre-hospital phase through the postoperative care and treatment process."

As part of the two-year accreditation process, hospitals undergo an on-site verification by experienced bariatric surgeons, who review the center's structure, process and quality of data using the current ACS Bariatric Surgery Center Network Accreditation Program Manual as a guideline in conducting the survey. Because high-quality surgical care requires documentation using reliable measurements of outcomes, accredited bariatric surgery centers are required to report their bariatric surgery outcomes data either to the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) or the College's BSCN Database, using a Web-based data entry system.

The educational and personal support process is a long-term commitment to ultimate success that starts before a patient is even considered a candidate for weight loss surgery. Tracey Wilds, clinical nurse specialist in Bariatric and Surgical Services at Emory, managed the program nursing and educational aspects as part of the accreditation process. According to her, a patient's stay in the hospital is a small, albeit critical, percentage of time devoted to successful weight loss and lifetime of healthy living choices.

"Although the hospital length of stay is quite brief compared to the months of pre-surgical education, many disciplines of hospital staff are educated about the surgeries and sensitivity toward obese patients," says Wilds. "The staff care is important to the patients' transition to the next phase of their lives. A great deal of education is continued after discharge as well, because this is a lifelong commitment to their health."

Dr. John Sweeney, MD, professor of surgery in the Emory School of Medicine, notes that more than 11 million people suffer from severe obesity, and the numbers continue to increase--leading to a wide range of long term health problems.

"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, cardiovascular disease, cancer and musculoskeletal disorders, among other health risks," says Dr. Sweeney. "While diet and exercise are essential to healthy weight loss, morbid obesity often requires supplementary treatment such as bariatric surgery. This accreditation can now assure patients they will have access to the very best level of care and follow-up, which we provide at Emory."

Established as a multi-disciplinary weight-management program in 2000, the Emory Bariatric Center tailors each patient's treatment using a continuum of methods that respond to the rising risks that accompany increasing levels of obesity. These methods include nutrition and exercise therapy, lifestyle education, pharmacotherapy, liquid meal replacement and bariatric surgery. The center's multi-specialty team includes nurses, bariatricians, anesthesiologists, psychologists, dietitians, surgeons, physician assistants, exercise specialists and a dedicated team of administrative and managerial personnel.

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 care of 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 72,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

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