Weekend Operations have Worse Outcomes

By Sharon Smith
Wednesday, 08 July, 2015

A  lack of experienced staff, reduced availability of testing and increased waiting times for treatment of urgent cases has been blamed for the results of a study in BMJ indicating patients admitted to hospital on a weekend have a higher risk of death than those admitted during the week.

Australians fare slightly better than their counterparts in the US, England or the Netherlands with the six Australian hospitals studied over seven-day mortality rates indicating 1.12 increased odds of dying after a Saturday admission. However, Australia’s 30-day mortality outlook showed no ‘weekend effect’ (possibly due to the lack of statistical data).

Emergency patients admitted to English, American or Dutch hospitals on a weekend had significantly higher odds of dying within the next month than those admitted on a weekday, with Dutch hospitals demonstrating the strongest weekend effect.

When elective admissions were analysed, hospitals in all countries displayed higher odds of dying within 30 days following a Saturday or Sunday procedure, compared with procedures performed on a Monday.

The authors say, “This trend supports the hypothesised idea that the first 48 hours of postoperative care is critical.”

They also stated the report was indication that the weekend effect is “a systematic phenomenon affecting healthcare providers across borders”.

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