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Is There Really a “Weekend Effect” for Surgery and Hospital Admission Timing that Impacts Patient Safety?

July 23, 2020

Being close to the Motor City, you may have heard the warning that you’re not supposed to buy a car that was made on a Monday. That’s because workers were thought to be tired from the weekend, and they’d forget to put a few nuts and bolts on the vehicles…

While there really is no proof to this claim, and it’s probably just an old wives’ tale, there is some truth to this notion when it comes to hospital admissions and scheduling surgeries.

What Does Research Say About When You Should Have Your Surgery?

 Some studies show that there are increased rates of mortality for hospital admissions on weekends when compared to weekdays. There is some skepticism for the “’weekend effect” on patient outcomes, but there is research that has shown that you’re more likely to survive if your procedure is performed during the week—preferably Monday through Thursday.

Research from the United Kingdom found increased odds of death when a patient is operated on Friday and the weekend versus weekdays. And a study in Australia and New Zealand found a trend for higher surgical mortality on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday when compared with all other days.

Another study found that patients were 44% more likely to die after having a surgery on a Friday than a Monday, and that rate nearly doubled to 82% for those who have surgery on the weekend instead of waiting until Monday.

In addition, if possible, studies show patients should avoid being admitted into the hospital or having surgery in the afternoon. Another study found patients should avoid surgery in February. Two recent studies found that patients who are admitted to a hospital on weekends, afternoons, and in the month of February appear to have a much higher risk of dying after surgery. The chances of death after surgery appeared to increase when patients had surgery in the afternoon—they were 21% more likely to die of surgical complications than those who were operated on during other times of the day. Patients who had surgery during the month of February were 16% more likely to die after surgery, compared to those operated on during other months.

There have also been studies that look at a specific procedure and the “’weekend effect” on patient outcomes. For example, one study published in The Journal of Surgical Research found that patients admitted on weekends for acute gallstone pancreatitis experienced a delay in getting an ERCP procedure (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) and had more complications, added adverse events, prolonged hospital stays, and increased hospital costs compared with those who were admitted on weekdays having a similar issue.

What Factors Cause The “Weekend Effect”?

 Some of the factors associated with the “weekend effect” include the following:

  • The “B Team” or staff who are forced to work the weekend may perform your surgery;
  • Nurses and staff may be over-worked due to staffing shortages on weekends;
  • Short-cuts may be taken in procedures;
  • Safety may be more lax on weekends;
  • Testing and results may be delayed;
  • The use of interventions may decrease on the weekends; and
  • The procedure may be delayed because of staff schedules.

 Did the hospital’s standard of care drop during the afternoon or weekend when you had surgery, causing your injury? Contact us! If you’ve been seriously injured as a result of the “weekend effect” at a healthcare facility, you may be entitled to damages.

For a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. We can discuss your situation if you believe you’ve been serious injured as the result of the “weekend effect.”

Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after-hours, at home or in the hospital to accommodate you.