Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Note to hospitals: Strokes can happen on weekends, too

My stroke happened on a Friday. So what would have happened if it had occurred 24 or 48 hours later, on Saturday or Sunday?

Recent research found some evidence that in the United States and, more recently, the United Kingdom, you're likely to have a better outcome if your stroke happens on a weekday. One quoted researcher spoke about deals "potentially avoidable." From MedPage Today:
Stroke patients admitted to British hospitals on weekends were less likely to receive recommended treatment and had worse outcomes than those treated on weekdays, researchers said.

Replicating the "weekend effect" seen previously in the U.S., a retrospective study of stroke patients treated in National Health Service hospitals indicated that the 7-day risk of inpatient mortality was 26% greater among those admitted on Sundays than on Mondays ... , according to William L. Palmer, MA, MSc, of Imperial College London, and colleagues.

"The findings suggest that approximately 350 in-hospital deaths each year within 7 days are potentially avoidable, and an additional 650 people could be discharged to their usual place of residence within 56 days if the performance seen on weekdays was replicated on weekends," Palmer and colleagues wrote online in Archives of Neurology.
An article from U.S. News and World Report:
The researchers also found that the average seven-day, in-hospital death rate for patients admitted on Sundays was 11 percent, compared with just under 9 percent for patients admitted on weekdays. ...

Some previous studies in other countries also reported higher death rates among patients with a number of medical conditions who are admitted to hospitals on weekends.
I've never understood the "weekend effect" for any patient. But the medical community always tells us that time is important for stroke patients. And many providers in the medical community takes this seriously. But more work, clearly, is needed.

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