Background Little is reported about postdischarge complications after bariatric surgery. We sought to identify the rates of postdischarge complications, associated risk factors, and their influence on early hospital readmission. Methods Using the database of the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS-NSQIP) (2005-2013), we identified patients ≥18 years of age who underwent a bariatric operation with a primary diagnosis of morbid/severe obesity and a body mass index ≥35. The incidence of postdischarge complication was the primary outcome, and hospital readmission was the secondary outcome. The association between postdischarge complications and various patient factors was explored by the use of multivariable logistic regression. Results A total of 113,898 patients were identified with an overall postdischarge complication rate of 3.2% within 30 days of operation. The rates decreased from 2005 to 2006 (4.6%) to 2013 (3.0%) (P <.001). On average, postdischarge complications occurred 10 days postoperatively, with wound infection (49.4%), reoperation (30.7%), urinary tract infection (16.9%), shock/sepsis (12.4%), and organ space surgical-site infection (11.0%) being the most common. Patients undergoing open gastric bypass had the greatest postdischarge complication rate of 8.5%. Of those patients experiencing postdischarge complications, 51.6% were readmitted. The overall readmission rate was 4.9%. The factors associated most strongly with increased odds of postdischarge complications were body mass index ≥ 50, use of steroids, procedure type, predischarge complication, prolonged duration of stay, and prolonged operative time. Conclusion Postdischarge complications after bariatric surgery represent a substantial source of patient morbidity and hospital readmissions. The majority of postdischarge complications are infection-related, including surgical-site infections and catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Adopting and implementing standardized pre- and postoperative strategies to decrease perioperative infection may help to decrease the rate of postdischarge complications and associated readmissions and enhance overall quality of care.
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