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New study confirms lower mortality risk for weekday ER admissions

It is never fun visiting even the best emergency room in Houston. Worrying about yourself or a loved one in an acute care situation is stressful enough; you should not have to worry about what day of the week it is. Still, a new study has confirmed that there is a correlation between the day of the week a person is admitted and the patient's chances of survival.

The study does not identify any specific risks -- if diagnostic or surgical errors were more common or if patients tended to be in more serious condition on certain days of the week. The study does, however, show a significant increase in risk for patients admitted on weekends.

The research was conducted in England, using data from National Health Service hospitals. The researchers looked at all admissions during 2009 and 2010, a total of more than 14 million ER and planned admissions. More than 187,300 of those patients died within a month of admission.

Patients admitted on Saturday or Sunday were more likely to die than patients admitted on a weekday. The risk for Sunday admissions was 16 percent higher than the risk for Wednesday admissions. Sundays proved to have the highest mortality risk of all.

The researchers found the lowest risk for patients admitted from Tuesday to Friday. Saturday showed a "marked increase" in risk, while Monday fared better than Saturday but still carried a "significantly higher" risk than Tuesday through Friday.

The results mirror those of other studies, including one of nonprofit hospitals in the U.S. Other studies in the U.S. and Canada have focused on risk for patients with certain conditions, and they have come to the same conclusion: The risk of death is higher for patients admitted on the weekend.

For the NHS, the study results could kick-start some policy changes. A government official said the service would be looking at way to make more experienced emergency physicians available over weekends, and ways to make more advanced diagnostic facilities available 24/7.

Source: medicaldaily.com, "Patients Are 'More Likely to Die' if Hospitalized During Weekends," Christine Hsu, Feb. 3, 2012

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