Mortality rate higher for patients admitted at weekends

You never know when you could have a serious medical problem but you hope that if you do, you can rely on the nation’s medical staff to nurse you back to health – whatever day of the week it is. The findings from a recent study into mortality rates in Britain’s hospitals therefore make for alarming reading, revealing that patients who are admitted to hospital unexpectedly at the weekend have a lesser chance of survival than those hospitalised during the week.

A study carried out by Imperial College London in 2010 first identified this worrying fact and this has been verified by the 2011 Dr Foster Hospital Guide. So why would the weekend mortality be any higher than the mortality rate for the weekend hospitalisations?

It is believed that the main cause for higher weekend mortality rates is the reduced number of senor doctors working on Saturdays and Sundays. Unsurprisingly, doctors prefer to keep their weekends free but hospitals miss their expertise at such times and less qualified medical professionals are forced to treat patients as a result. Specialist services are particularly affected because they cannot maintain the same staff levels at weekends as they can during the week.

The studies show direct correlation between the mortality rate and the number of senior medical staff in hospitals. Therefore, the more senior medical staff on duty, the lower the mortality rate and the fewer senior medical staff on duty the higher the mortality rate. Work must therefore be done to try and keep senior staff levels high at the weekend as well.

Hospitals will be keen to try and reverse this trend quickly in light of the fact that patients will now be far more concerned about their wellbeing if they are admitted to hospital at the weekend.

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