Postoperative bariatric management often includes high-intensity monitoring for respiratory complications since > 70% of patients have obstructive sleep apnea. Given the increasing number of bariatric surgeries, there is a need to determine safe and cost-effective processes for postoperative care.The objective of this study was to determine if a novel triage and perioperative management guideline reduces postoperative monitoring and costs following bariatric surgery.
Using a pre-post design, this is a retrospective analysis of 501 patients who had bariatric surgery. Half the patients were managed with usual care, and the other half received obstructive sleep apnea screening and treatment of moderate/severe obstructive sleep apnea with perioperative continuous positive airway pressure. The intervention group was triaged preoperatively to a postoperative nursing location based on risk factors.
There were no significant differences in demographics, comorbidities, frequency, or severity of OSA between groups. In the intervention group, there were fewer admissions to the intensive care unit (2.0% vs 9.1%; p < 0.01) and high acuity unit (9.6% vs 18.3%; p < 0.01). The length of stay was shorter in the intervention group (1.3 vs 2.3 days; p < 0.01) with a 50% reduction in costs. There were no statistically significant differences in the incidence of postoperative respiratory and non-respiratory complications between the two groups.
Most postoperative bariatric surgery patients can be safely managed on the surgical ward with monitoring of routine vitals alone if patients with moderate/severe obstructive sleep apnea receive perioperative continuous positive airway pressure.

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