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Weekend Medical Care Shows Increased Mortality Rate

No one is able to predict or plan when they will get sick or have a medical emergency. For many people, it is much easier to fit in a trip to seek medical care on a weekend, but for stroke patients admission to a hospital on a weekend could be deadly.

A study, just released, from the UK reports that stroke patients admitted on weekend days were less likely to receive emergency care. There have been several studies done in the US that have also shown similar outcomes in patients with a variety of medical conditions, though US studies have not been as comprehensive as the UK study. This medical care anomaly has been named "the weekend effect."

The UK study shows that the mortality rate for patients admitted on Sunday was 26% higher than for patients admitted on a Monday, only a 1-day difference. The reason is believed to be that patients admitted on weekend are unable to receive the same emergency care received by those admitted during the week. Many specialists do not have practice hours on the weekend, and many tests cannot be performed in the same timely manner on a weekend as during the week.

The figures in the study also show that around 350 yearly in-hospital deaths, which occur within the 7-day weekly figure, could be avoided, and almost double the amount of patients would be able to return to home settings in a shorter amount of time. There are several other factors, other than admission day and time, including mean age and gender, that have been adjusted for when providing the figures and data for this study.

The most common neglected treatment options include same-day brain scanning and management of thrombolytic agents. Researchers and writers of the UK study acknowledge that there have been changes made in stroke care since their data was collected in 2009. Hospitals have vamped up their programs and emergency responses when handling stoke cases. In a recent US study, specialized stroke centers have a near 0% mortality rate regardless of the time of admission as opposed to a traditional hospital.

While the figures are shocking, researchers say much of this can be turned around with increased staff on the weekends along with employees that can perform the necessary tasks will fix a lot of these problems. Through better administration and guidelines, stroke patients should be able to receive the same care on weekends as they would at a hospital on a weekday.

  Sources: ABC News MedPage Today The Telegraph (UK)
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