It shouldn’t matter what day of the week that someone receives medical care. The standard of care that doctors and nurses must meet doesn’t go down, just because it’s the weekend.
Recent research, however, reveals some troubling data. A large study done in Britain found that the likelihood of patients dying is higher if they are admitted to the hospital over the weekend than it is for those admitted during the middle days of the week.
Similar reports have appeared in America as well. On both sides of the Atlantic, it seems that patients are at higher risk of emergency room errors or other forms of medical malpractice when admitted on weekends or during holidays.
The British study was done by researchers from University College, London. They analyzed all admissions in England to National Health Service Hospitals during 2009-10. This involved a total of 14 million admissions, either to the ER or through a planned admission.
The research found that higher death rates occurred for patients who were admitted on weekends. These rates were lower for people who were already hospitalized prior to a weekend.
Breaking down the data further, the researchers found that the days from Tuesday through Friday were associated with the lowest risk of dying in the hospital. Sunday admissions were the highest. Saturday admissions also carried a marked increase in the mortality risk. Monday admission had a statistically significant increased risk as well.
These findings are comparable to data on death results drawn from 254 for-profit American hospitals.
Hospitals, the researchers recommended, should reorganize so that people have access on all seven days to the consistent care they need.
Source: “Patients Are ‘More Likely to Die’ if Hospitalized During Weekends,” Medical Daily, 2-3-12