The so-called “weekend effect,” in which patients who are admitted to the hospital over the weekend experience longer stays and experience more complications, was found again in a new study recently published in the British Medical Journal. The issue stems from a lack of clinical services on the weekends, when many diagnostic and interventional services shut down except to handle life-threatening problems.
The study examined 48 other studies about the weekend effect, encompassing almost 1.9 million patients. Of these studies, 36 showed increased mortality rates, and 30 showed increased wait times. While the link between increased mortality and off-hours admission is strong, it is not definitive. The authors of the study concluded that “increased mortality during off-hours is associated with factors that arise after presentation at hospital.” Despite the evidence, the authors of the study could not rule out other factors that could impact patient care besides the weekend effect.