University of Miami Hospital Recognized for Quality, Cost-Effective Bariatric Surgery

Florida Blue has honored University of Miami Hospital, the flagship hospital of UHealth – University of Miami Health System, with a Blue Distinction Center+ designation in the area of bariatric surgery. Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care are nationally designated healthcare facilities shown to deliver quality care based on objective measures, which were developed with input from the medical community, for patient safety and better health outcomes.

UMH is among the first hospitals to receive the new designation.

“This recognition is a testament to the excellent care we provide to our bariatric patients at University of Miami Hospital,” said Nestor de la Cruz-Muñoz, M.D., Chief of the Division of Laparoendoscopic and Bariatric Surgery. “We have an expert team in bariatric surgery that continues to lead the field in improving the health of obese patients.”

To receive a Blue Distinction Center+ for Bariatric Surgery designation, a healthcare facility must demonstrate success in meeting patient safety as well as bariatric-specific quality measures, including low rates of complications and readmissions, for gastric stapling and/or gastric banding procedures. A healthcare facility must also have earned national accreditations at both the facility level and the bariatric care-specific level, as well as demonstrate better cost efficiency relative to its peers.

Bariatric surgeries are among the most common elective surgeries in the U.S., which provides a significant opportunity to improve quality and efficiency within the healthcare system. There were 179,000 bariatric surgeries performed in 2013, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, and the average cost is more than $28,000, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Furthermore, it is estimated that 72 million Americans are obese and 24 million suffer from morbid obesity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated annual healthcare costs of obesity-related illnesses are $190.2 billion, or nearly 21 percent of annual medical spending in the U.S., according to the Journal of Health Economics.

“Patients come to UMH for bariatric surgery because of our expertise and experience,” said de la Cruz-Muñoz. “Because we are based at an academic medical center, the Miller School of Medicine, we are advancing research in the field and training the next generation of surgeons, in addition to providing the most advanced care to patients right now. Receiving this designation is another indicator that we are at the forefront in our field.”

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality providers for their specialty care needs in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery, and transplants, while encouraging healthcare professionals to improve the care they deliver. For more information about the program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, please visit

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