-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Hospital patients admitted
as emergency cases on public holidays are more likely to die within
the month than those admitted on other days, according to a study
from the United Kingdom.
Researchers looked at the seven-day and 30-day death rates among
about 20,000 patients admitted as emergencies to a district general
hospital in Scotland between 2008 and 2010. About 6 percent of the
patients were admitted on public holidays, 77 percent on weekdays
and the remainder on weekends.
Overall, 771 patients (3.8 percent) died within seven days of
being admitted to the hospital, and 1,780 (8.9 percent) died within
30 days, the investigators reported in the study published online
Jan. 24 in the
Emergency Medicine Journal.
Nearly 6 percent of the patients admitted on a public holiday
died within seven days and about 11 percent of them died within 30
days, versus about 4 percent and nearly 9 percent, respectively, of
those admitted on other days, the findings showed.
Compared to patients admitted on weekdays, those admitted on
weekends tended to be a bit older, less likely to have cancer and
more likely to have a respiratory problem, the authors said in a
journal news release. Patients admitted on public holidays were
also more likely to have a respiratory problem. Otherwise, there
were no distinctive differences between the patients in the
There were no differences noted in senior doctor staffing on
weekdays and normal weekends. However, public holidays are often
part of a three- or four-day weekend, which results in what the
study authors called a "cumulative effect" on hospital
"If we assume that patients with severe illnesses are no more likely to be admitted on any one day of the week than any other, then it becomes difficult to escape the view that a cumulative effect of lack of services and/or lack of doctors on public holidays must have a part to play in the higher public holiday mortality demonstrated in this study," concluded Dr. Sian Finlay, of the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary in Scotland, and colleagues.
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