A recent report released by the National Health Services (NHS) in the U.K. revealed that being admitted to a hospital on a weekend increased the risk of dying within 30 days. The report also showed that weekend admission elevated the odds of a longer hospital stay. As part of the research, health experts examined data on more than 16.3 million patient admissions between October 2015 and September 2016 from 133 NHS trusts.
The research team found that patients admitted during the weekends had increased odds of 30-day mortality. The experts also found that patients admitted during “transition” days of Monday and Friday have higher mortality risk compared with those admitted during Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. The report further revealed that patients discharged on a Friday or over the weekend were at an increased risk of experiencing emergency readmission within a week. An NHS official stressed that up to 11,000 deaths per year were associated with this “weekend effect.”
According to the researchers, this weekend effect stemmed from a lack of inpatient and outpatient services during weekends. The experts stressed that more seasoned senior doctors were rarely available on Saturdays and Sundays. The report highlighted the staff shortage during weekends, which negatively impacted certain procedures such as x-rays, blood tests, and vital scans.
“It might be about how quick people get to hospital, how many porters or other non-medical staff are working. It might be that people are sicker when they get to hospital, because they may have been sitting at home for longer waiting for a GP appointment — we just do not know,” said Professor Mike Grocott, a critical care specialist at the University of Southampton in an article in DailyMail.co.uk.
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Other studies demonstrate “weekend effect”
Numerous studies have previously established of link between weekend hospitalization and higher mortality risk. A study conducted by researchers at the Bristol University in the U.K. revealed that older patients with fractured hips who underwent surgery on a Saturday had a 10 percent higher risk of dying within a month following the procedure. The research team also found that hip surgery patients who were discharged on a Sunday had a 51.5 percent increased likelihood of dying within 30 days after the procedure. (Related: Want to live longer? Read some of the articles at Longevity.news).
A 2015 study also showed a correlation between weekend admission and higher mortality risk, especially among patients with cancer, heart problems, or stroke. As part of the study, researchers analyzed 14 million patients admitted to U.K. hospitals between 2013 and 2014. The study revealed that patients who were admitted on a Sunday were 15 percent more likely to die compared to those admitted on a Wednesday. The research team also found that patients admitted on a Saturday had a 10 percent increased risk of dying.
“We have shown a clear association between weekend admission and worse patient outcomes. Our analyses show that an increased proportion of higher risk patients are admitted on Saturday and Sunday, when services inside and outside the hospital are reduced. There is evidence that junior hospital doctors feel clinically exposed during the weekend and that hospital chief executives are concerned about levels of weekend cover…Patients generally accept the risks associated with their condition and with any necessary treatment, but they should never have to accept an increased risk because of the way healthcare services are designed and delivered,” the study authors wrote in the British Medical Journal.
A study published in BMC Health Services Research also found that weekend hospitalization was an independent risk factor in increased mortality risk, especially among patients who had elective admissions. To carry out the study, researchers examined more than 1.5 million elective admissions and found that the mortality rate was 0.77 percent in those who were on weekend admission, compared with only 0.52 percent in those who had weekday admission. However, the research team stressed that the findings warrant further assessment.