Risk of Death in ICU Higher on Weekends: Study

A new study by U.S. researchers has found that patients admitted to a hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) over the weekend are more likely to die than patients admitted during the week. 

The findings of the study were presented in July’s issue of the medical journal Chest. Researchers from a number of university medical schools performed a review of several studies done on the chance of death in ICUs among patients admitted at night and on weekends, as opposed to being admitted during the day.

Night admissions resulted in no increased risk of death, researchers determined. However, those admitted to ICU over a weekend were found to have an 8% higher risk of death than those admitted during the week. Researchers speculated that the increased risk of death in an ICU could be linked to lower staffing levels in hospitals over the weekend and a lower “intensity” of care provided.

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The lead researcher, Dr. Rodgrigo Cavallazzi, told MedicineNet.com that the findings should not be construed by the public as advising them that they should wait until Monday to go to a hospital if they feel ill. He urged people not to wait to summon medical assistance, regardless of when they fell ill.

Such studies may help lead to changes in policy that reduce the risk of injury for patients.

Other studies published this year have also found that the risk of medical mistakes in emergency rooms increases with the number of interruptions suffered by doctors and nurses. Researchers have also found that patient death is more likely to occur in crowded hospitals.

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