Impact of fragmentation on rehospitalization after bariatric surgery



The care of patients who have undergone bariatric surgery is complex and requires a multidisciplinary approach. As such, these patients may be prone to fragmentation of care and differences in healthcare outcomes. We aimed to (1) determine the incidence of fragmentation among patients after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) or sleeve gastrectomy (SG), (2) identify risk factors for readmission, and (3) ascertain whether care fragmentation affects outcomes.


This is a retrospective cohort study using the National Readmission Database 2016. Patients were included if they had primary bariatric surgery during the index hospitalization using appropriate ICD-10 CM codes. Fragmentation of care was defined as a readmission to a different hospital within 90 days of the index admission. Primary outcome was incidence of fragmentation. Secondary outcomes were impact of fragmentation on (1) in-hospital mortality; (2) resource utilization (length of stay (LOS), total hospitalization charges and costs, in-hospital upper endoscopy (EGD), and abdominal imaging studies; and (3) independent predictors of readmission using multivariate regression analysis.


A total of 136,536 subjects were included. 90-day readmission demonstrated a prevalence of fragmentation of 21.1%. Type of surgery was an independent predictor of fragmentation, with RYGB leading to increased risk (OR 1.90 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.61, 2.25]; p-value < 0.0001). RYGB was associated with higher adjusted mean hospitalization costs, which was not explained by increased EGD (OR 0.95, CI 0.68, 1.32) or abdominal imaging (OR 0.52, CI 0.25, 1.06). No differences were found in mortality or LOS.


Over 20% of patients following primary bariatric surgery have inpatient readmissions that are fragmented, driven by patients who have undergone RYGB surgery. This may be due to the complexity of this procedure and the need for a multispecialty approach. Additional efforts targeting fragmentation should be made to better coordinate the management of these complex patients and reduce healthcare costs.

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Correspondence to Allison R. Schulman.

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Dr. Schulman: Apollo Endosurgery—consultant, MicroTech—consultant, and Boston Scientific—consultant. Dr. Telem: Medtronic—research funding. Drs. Dolan, Abougergi, and Cohen-Meckelburg have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.

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Schulman, A.R., Dolan, R., Abougergi, M.S. et al. Impact of fragmentation on rehospitalization after bariatric surgery. Surg Endosc 35, 291–297 (2021).

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  • Obesity
  • Gastric bypass
  • Sleeve gastrectomy
  • Fragmentation of care