Patients admitted to hospital as emergencies on public holidays may be significantly more likely to die than on other days, according to new research by British researchers.
The study, published online in the Emergency Medicine Journal, also shows the emergency admissions death rate is also 10 percent higher at weekends than during the week, possibly due to doctor staffing issues.
"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," the researchers concluded.
The findings are based on researchers’ examination of seven- and 30-day death rates among patients admitted as emergencies to a major hospital in Scotland between January 2008 and December 2010.The medical center serves a population of 150,000 people, and admits 6,700 patients as medical emergencies every year.
During the study period, records showed more than 20,000 people were admitted as emergencies to the medical unit – 77 percent during the week; the rest on weekends. About 5.6 percent of the admissions occurred on public holidays, usually as part of a three- or four-day period.
The results indicated nearly 4 percent of patients died within seven days of admission, and about 9 percent died within 30 days. Death rates were only slightly higher at weekends, but were significantly higher for holiday admissions — on weekdays and weekends — than for other days, the analysis showed. About 5.8 percent of patients admitted on holidays died within seven days compared with 3.7 percent of those admitted on other days; while 11.3 percent died within 30 days compared with 8.7 percent of those admitted at other times.
As a result, patients admitted on public holidays were 48 percent more likely to die within seven days and 27 percent more likely to do so within 30 days.
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