Patients with head trauma have increased morality rates if admitted to the hospital over a weekend rather than a weekday, according to research from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“There is not a medical reason for worse results on weekends,” Eric B. Schneider, PhD, study leader and epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Center for Surgical Trials and Outcomes Research, stated in a university press release. “It is more likely a difference in how hospitals operate over the weekend as opposed to during the week, meaning that there may be a real opportunity for hospitals to change how they operate and save lives.”
In a review of 38,675 patient records, the researchers found that older patients with head trauma had a 14% higher chance of dying over a weekend hospital stay compared to patients hospitalized during the week. Weekend patients had slightly lower comorbidities and less severe head injuries than weekday patients. The investigators also said the effect remains the same when adjusting for age, treatment similarity and injury severity, according to the release.
According to the abstract, the median length of stay was 4 days for weekend patients compared with 5 days for the weekday patients. Median total charges did not differ between groups.
Investigators suggested that staffing hospitals on weekends to levels seen during the week and directly transporting older patients to trauma centers instead of general hospitals could improve mortality rates.
Schneider EB, Hirani SA, Hambridge HL, et al. Beating the weekend trend: increased mortality in older adult traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients admitted on weekends. J Surg Res. 2012 Jul 7. [Epub ahead of print].