Study: Death rate higher for those hospitalized over weekends

According to the results of a recently published study, patients in Illinois and throughout the entire U.S. may be at a greater risk of dying if they are hospitalized during the weekend compared to patients who are hospitalized during the week.

But if doctors, nurses and other medical professionals are required to always provide quality care to patients, why would patients be more at risk of dying if they are hospitalized over the weekend? Does this mean that hospital negligence is more common during the weekends, causing medical professionals to be more prone to committing medical malpractice on Saturdays and Sundays? Or could fewer staff and fewer resources be contributing to this concerning problem?

The study was conducted by researchers at the University College London and published last week in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Researchers studied trends in hospital patients’ deaths and concluded that those who were hospitalized on Sundays were 16 percent more likely to die compared to those who were hospitalized on Wednesdays, Thursdays or Fridays. Overall, patients who were hospitalized on Saturdays or Sundays were at the highest risk of dying from their ailments. Those hospitalized between Tuesdays and Fridays had the lowest risk of dying from their ailments.

Although the study was conducted overseas, the findings are consistent with other studies performed in the U.S. that involved data from more than 250 non-profit hospitals. According to previous U.S. studies, patients were more likely to die when hospitalized during the weekend if they suffered from an acute kidney injury or an acute myocardial infarction compared to those with the same conditions who were hospitalized during the week.

Researchers are not entirely sure why patients are more at risk of dying from their ailments if they are hospitalized during the weekend. Some suggest that fewer staff on hand is a main factor. Another factor could be that hospitals do not have the appropriate staff on hand to perform important diagnostic tests on patients.

Although more research may need to be conducted in order to pinpoint some of the main reasons why patients may be more at risk of dying when hospitalized over the weekend, the current research does raise some concerns about the quality of care that is being provided to patients at our nation’s hospitals.

Source: Medical Daily, “Patients Are ‘More Likely to Die’ if Hospitalized During Weekends,” Christine Hsu, Feb. 3, 2012

Hospital Negligence


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