Study Finds Weekend Patients at Greater Risk of Negative Outcomes

Having a stroke, being in a car accident, experiencing a heart attack - these are experiences that no one can determine when they will happen. A new study, however, suggests that whether such incidents happen on a weekday or a weekend may have an impact on a hospital patient's likelihood of survival. This is known as the "weekend effect" and should be a concern for both hospitals and patients alike.

Study Examines the Weekend Effect

The study, performed by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and published in the Journal of Surgical Research, specifically analyzed patients who were admitted to United States hospitals because of a head trauma injury. They examined the medical records of 38,675 patients who fell into the 65- to 89-years-old age range. Then they looked at the health outcomes of patients who were treated both on weekdays and weekends.

Study Finds Patients Experience Better Outcomes on Weekdays

When examining head trauma overall, about 1.4 million Americans are hospitalized for head injuries each year. These injuries are responsible for about 50,000 deaths a year.

When the study looked specifically at the weekend to weekday statistics, it found that a patient admitted on the weekend was 14 percent more likely to die because of the injury than a patient admitted during the week, even if the weekend patient's injuries were less severe or the patient had fewer other health complications than someone similarly admitted on a weekday.

Possible Explanations for the Weekend Effect

Several possible reasons may explain the varying results from weekend to weekday hospital admissions. One of these is the staffing available on the weekends. A delay in time resulting from difficulty in finding a specialist can delay a patient's care, and with high-risk accidents and illnesses, those seconds may be worth lives.

Another possible explanation could be the attentiveness or fatigue of doctors working on the weekends. These doctors may be more tired or distracted than those who are prepared and at work on a regular schedule, which may result in medical malpractice. The study found that the cost of treatment was the same for weekend and weekday admissions, however, which suggests that the treatments given to the patients were the same.

In Cases of Medical Malpractice or Hospital Negligence

No matter the reason, when a doctor, nurse or hospital is negligent and a patient suffers as a result, that patient is not without remedy. If you or a loved one has been harmed by potential medical negligence, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to discuss your legal options.