Can Time of Day or the Day you get Hospital Treatment Affect the Level of Care You Receive?

There are any number of causes for medical errors and medical malpractice. Now you can add time of day and day of the week to that list.

Mayo Clinic researchers reviewed 48 studies conducted in the United States and Europe that examined links between when heart attack patients were treated at hospitals and mortality rates for those patients. The studies included 1.8 heart million patients and compared those who received treatment at hospitals either at night or on the weekend versus those who received treatment during “regular” hours.

The findings:

  • Heart attack patients who were treated during nights and weekends experienced a 5 percent increase in risk of death. This includes during their hospital stays and 30 days following discharge.
  • That 5 percent increase equates to 6,000 additional patient deaths in the United States
  • Heart attack patients diagnosed with ST elevation myocardial infarction experienced a 15-minute delay in receiving in a vital procedure to inflate the coronary artery
  • According to reports of the study on the website of BMJ, this delay could increase deaths in these patients by 10 to 15 percent

The study’s authors conclude that the increase of heart attack deaths during off-hours can be attributed to what happens in the hospital.

This discrepancy in hospital care between regular hours and off hours is potentially significant, as each year 1 million people in this country suffer a heart attack. In a news release announcing the study results, one of the researchers said that hospitals wanting to enhance treatment of heart attack patients “should focus on improving their off-hour care, with the goal of providing consistently high quality care 24 hours a day and seven days a week.”

When something goes tragically wrong during medical treatment, in can be difficult to unravel who was at fault. Therefore, victims of serious medical malpractice and their families may want to consult an attorney experienced in investigating cases of medical negligence and obtaining compensation from those responsible.