hospital mortality rates higher for patients admitted on weekends

When patients are admitted to the hospital in critical condition, it is with the expectation that they will receive high-quality health care. Unfortunately, what many patients in Pittsburgh do not realize is that the day of the week they are admitted to the hospital may impact how likely they are to survive their medical crisis.

A new study confirmed that patients are more likely to die in hospitals if they are admitted during the weekend. Patients who are admitted to the hospital on a Sunday are 16 percent more likely to die than if they were admitted in the middle of the week.

The increased fatality rate can be attributed to several factors, including negligent medical treatment, reduced staffing and decreased availability of diagnostic tests.

People who were admitted to the hospital Tuesday through Friday had the lowest risk of in-hospital death. People who were admitted to the hospital on Sunday were linked with the highest risk. Finally, people who were admitted on Saturday were marked with an increased mortality rate, and “admission on Monday was associated with a less, but statistically significant, increased risk.”

Previous studies have suggested an increased mortality rate during the weekends, but this study offered more conclusive evidence.

In many hospitals, there are fewer people working on the weekends. As a result, when someone is admitted in a critical state, he or she may need to wait to receive the necessary care. In addition, many hospitals do not have the budgets to keep specialists on staff at all hours of the day.

Some small hospitals have technology available to provide individuals with the diagnostic tests they need — teleradiology, for example — but outsourcing tests or calling in specialists from other hospitals can also lead to problems, as we have discussed in previous posts.

Injuries and illnesses do not wait upon the convenience of hospital administrators and policymakers. Quality health care should be accessible seven days a week.

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

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