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Mass. to Probe Weight Loss Surgery

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BOSTON, Jan 14, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Stung by the deaths of three patients who underwent surgical weight loss, Massachusetts health officials have formed a panel to study the problem.

A man's death last week apparently was the last straw, the Boston Herald reported Wednesday.

"We need to figure out, are there things we are doing as surgeons, as institutions, as advocates for healthier lifestyles, are there things that could be done that would prevent the bad outcomes?" Nancy Ridley, assistant commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, asked Tuesday.

Department of Public Health spokeswoman Roseanne Pawelec said the agency has recorded three deaths of weight-loss surgery patients in hospitals in the past year.

With no single state agency tracking the issue, more definitive numbers -- including exactly how many surgeries are being performed -- are hard to confirm.

"We know (these surgeries) have increased dramatically with demand. Is that why we are seeing more (complications and deaths)? We don't know, but that's what the panel needs to find out," said Ridley, the assistant DPH commissioner.

She said the panel's initial report will be due in 90 days.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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