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The Weekend Effect Can Be Deadly In Hospitals


Contrary to the way it sounds, the weekend effect is not some consequence of a weekend of drinking or partying, or simply a hangover at the reality of the workweek starting. It actually is a phrase related to medical malpractice, and the level and standard of care that many people get—or don’t get—when they go to the emergency room in hospitals over the weekend.

Mortality Rate on Weekends is Higher

Studies have shown that the mortality rate for people who go to a hospital on the weekend, is overall higher than it is when people go to the hospital emergency room on weekdays. The mortality rate was between 11%-16% higher on weekends.

The mortality rate is also higher when people go to the hospital after hours, but that difference is not as pronounced as the difference between weekdays and weekends.

There does not seem to be a difference in the condition that the patients are suffering—in other words, the higher mortality rate on weekends is not because the patients are suffering from more severe, or more likely to be fatal injuries.

The difference in mortality rates between weekends and weekdays also applies to children admitted into hospitals.

Why the Difference?

The big question is why there is such a discrepancy in survivability between weekends and weekdays.

One theory is that the availability of outside specialists (on-call physicians) may be lessened during the weekend; whereas, for example, an orthopedist may be available quickly on a Wednesday, he or she may take longer to get to a patient on a Sunday afternoon.

Another theory may be the quality of the on-staff physicians and nurses during the weekend. The more experienced medical personnel may opt not to work on weekends, leaving weekend hours to younger or less experienced medical personnel.

Weekends may simply have fewer people working, meaning that doctors and nurses may take a little longer to attend to patients who are in urgent need of immediate attention.

Weekend and nighttime staff may suffer from exhaustion; medical staff are human beings also, and they may stay up later on weekends, or have “rough nights” the night before work.

There is also a theory that the patients are different on weekends, and in the late hours. Weekends are when people drink (and then, sadly, drive), or when they may engage in high risk activities or extreme sports. The patients that attend to the emergency room on weekends may just be more seriously injured.

Trauma Centers are Unaffected

Interestingly, dedicated trauma centers do not have the gaping difference in mortality rates between weekdays and weekends. That may be because these are facilities where experts and specialists are available around the clock, all the time. This tends to bear out the deficiencies in traditional hospital care on weekends.

Call the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig today for help if you have been injured in a hospital or as a result of any kind of medical malpractice.




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