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Investigation Reveals Concerns About Bellevue Hospital's Bariatric Surgery Program

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Mason Walker
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Investigation Reveals Concerns About Bellevue Hospital's Bariatric Surgery Program

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An investigation led by The New York Times has brought to light serious concerns about the bariatric surgery program at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. The report is based on interviews with employees and patients, as well as internal documents, and suggests that the hospital may be pushing patients through the operation too quickly, operating on patients with Body Mass Index (BMI) figures below the standard guidelines, and may not be adequately informing patients about the risks associated with the surgery. The hospital is currently on track to perform a record 3,000 weight-loss surgeries this year.

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The Booming Bariatric Surgery Practice at Bellevue Hospital

The hospital's bariatric program has been likened to a high-speed assembly line, endangering some patients and compromising urgent care for others. Bellevue Hospital receives at least $11,000 for most weight loss surgeries, and the surgeons earn more money when they perform more operations. Since 2008, the hospital has performed more than 17,000 weight loss procedures. This high demand for weight loss surgeries has crowded out other services, leading to delays in urgent surgeries for patients with stab wounds and broken bones.

Concerns Raised by Employees and Patients

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A number of employees have voiced concerns about the rush to operate on patients, indicating that this may be leading to delays for other urgent care cases. Patients recruited from Rikers Island jail complex have also reported malnutrition after the operation. A pregnant patient was even operated on after a missed pregnancy test review.

Surgery on Inappropriate Candidates

Beyond the concerns of rushing patients and crowding out other services, the hospital has been accused of performing surgeries on patients who were inappropriate candidates for the procedure. This includes prisoners from Rikers Island, who were reportedly sent back to prison after surgery and became malnourished due to a lack of control over their diets. At least 11 such cases have been documented.

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Bellevue Hospital's Response

In response to the allegations, a spokesperson from Bellevue Hospital cited a high demand for the surgery and recognition from the American College of Surgeons. The hospital has also stated that patients acknowledge the risks through a screening period lasting three to six months. Despite the hospital's denial of many of the claims, the concerns raised by employees and patients warrant serious attention and further investigation.

Conclusion

This investigation into Bellevue Hospital's bariatric surgery program raises critical questions about patient safety, informed consent, and the ethics of surgical procedures performed under financial incentives. It underlines the need for transparency, strict adherence to guidelines, and patient-centered care in the field of bariatric surgery. It's essential that hospitals prioritize the health and safety of their patients above all else. A thorough and transparent review of Bellevue Hospital's practices is necessary to ensure that all patients are receiving the highest standard of care.

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