Weekend admissions tied to higher mortality: new study

A new analysis of more than 121 million hospital discharges found a slightly higher inpatient death rate among patients who were admitted on the weekend versus weekdays. The findings were published in the June edition of the American Journal of Medicine Open

Researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of all adult hospitalizations from 2016-19 in the National Inpatient Sample to examine the link between several different variables and in-hospital death. The percentage of deaths for weekend admissions was 2.7 percent relative to 2.1 percent on weekdays. Researchers also found patients admitted on the weekends underwent fewer procedures in the first 24 hours after admission compared to weekdays. 

"Further studies should be done to further clarify and confirm if additional staffing and procedural availability on weekends could improve hospital outcomes," the study said. 

In 2019, a separate team of researchers published an analysis of 68 studies that investigated the "weekend effect." They concluded evidence regarding the weekend effect and care quality is "weak and inconsistent."

In the more recent study, researchers said, "We cannot conclude causation, but the discrepancy forces us to ask if hospitals' services are meaningfully different on the weekend. It may not be a "medical error" in the traditional sense but rather an availability and staffing issue." 

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