What is the Hospital “Weekend Effect?”

ambulance.jpgDoes the day you are admitted into a hospital raise the chances of you suffering a catastrophic medical error?

For years, medical researchers have studied what’s called the hospital “weekend effect,” to determine whether or not this long-suspected phenomenon actually exists. Studies indicate that those who enter a hospital on the weekend indeed do run a greater risk of receiving poorer care than patients admitted on weekdays.

This has been found especially true for cardiac, stroke, and aneurism patients.

Weekend Heart Attack Patients Less Likely to Survive

A 2008 study of 87,000 adult heart attack patients found those admitted during the weekday (and daytime) were 41 percent more likely to survive than those admitted during the weekend (and nighttime). Two other 2008 studies also showed stroke patients were more likely to die when admitted at night or over the weekend.

In 2012, researchers at John Hopkins reviewed records of more than 38,000 elderly patients who suffered severe head trauma. They found those admitted during the weekend were more likely to die from their injuries than the weekday patients – even if their injuries were less severe.

And earlier this summer, a multi-national study determined that patients admitted in hospital emergency rooms on Saturday and Sunday were more likely to die within 30 days than patients suffering the same condition admitted Monday through Friday. The increased risk ranged from 13 percent in U.S. hospitals to 20 percent in Dutch hospitals.

Why is Hospital Care Worse on the Weekend?

While numerous studies show a greater risk for hospital errors during the weekend, no one has a definitive explanation why this is. Researchers have presented potential reasons, including:

• Fewer healthcare providers working on the weekends

• Less access to important diagnostic medical equipment on the weekends

If you believe you or a loved one suffered a serious medical error during a hospital stay, an attorney who represents victims of medical malpractice can conduct an in-depth investigation to determine what went wrong, identify who is responsible, and then hold them accountable.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.