Why You Should Avoid Hospitals on the Weekend

A new study confirms the existence of the potentially deadly "weekend effect" at hospitals. Here are three reasons why your life may be at risk.

Why You Should Avoid Hospitals on the Weekend Photo (cc) by heipei

Hospital stays can be hazardous to your health on the weekends.

Patients admitted to U.S. hospitals on weekends have greater odds of dying, a new study says. The findings, part of an international comparison of in-hospital mortality, were published online in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety on Monday.

For the study, researchers analyzed data in the form of more than 2.9 million hospital records from 28 hospitals in the United States, England, Australia and the Netherlands.

Researchers examined records on both admissions for emergency operations and on planned surgeries, also known as elective procedures.

In every country except Australia, patients admitted to hospitals on the weekend for emergencies showed higher odds of death within 30 days of their operation, compared with patients admitted on weekdays.

In all four countries, patients admitted on weekends for elective procedures showed higher odds of post-operative death.

A press release issued by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) notes:

The international nature of the findings suggests that this is a systematic phenomenon that not only crosses time, but also space.

The study results support the findings of prior research into the so-called “weekend effect,” in which patients admitted to hospitals on weekends have higher mortality rates. Due to data limitations, the researchers were unable to draw conclusions about what causes the weekend effect.

Possible explanations cited include the facts that over weekends:

  • Health care providers’ access to test results and diagnostics is reduced
  • Staff might be fewer and less experienced
  • Patients’ wait times might be longer

To learn more about hospitals near you, check out “How Good Is Your Hospital? Find Out.”

What are your thoughts about being admitted to the hospital on a weekend? Let us know in a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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