Mortality rates are higher after elective surgical procedures performed at the end of the week than surgeries done earlier in the week, according to a study published in Medical Care. Previous research shows this “weekend effect” in other types of medical care as well.
Researchers at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, found that more people die after surgeries performed on Thursdays and Fridays than on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays, and these deaths may be due to early post-surgical complications that develop on weekends.
The researchers analyzed 10 previous studies involving approximately 6.7 million people undergoing elective surgery. They found that postoperative mortality rates increased gradually as surgery days approached weekends. Compared to post-surgical death risk on Mondays, risk of death after surgery on Thursdays was 12 percent higher and on Fridays, 24 percent higher. A further analysis involving 1.4 million patients in 19 previous studies suggests mortality rates in people admitted to the hospital for emergency surgery on Saturday or Sunday are 27 percent higher than for those admitted on weekdays.