British researchers have found that stroke patients are more likely to die if hospitalized over the weekend. The study posits that stroke patients who are part of “the weekend effect” are less likely to receive vital treatments due to a lack of hospital staff.
According to ABC News, this study showed an 11 percent in-hospital mortality rate for stroke patients admitted on Sundays, compared to an average of 8.9 percent during the week. Additionally, same-day brain scans showed a difference of 43.1 percent on the weekends and 47.6 percent on weekdays. Brain scans can include an EEG, CAT, PET, MRI, or MEG, according to PBS.org, and in the case of EEGs, they study brain activity.
"The scale of the issue is substantial, with approximately 350 potentially avoidable in-hospital deaths within seven days,” the lead author of the study told ABC News. He added that results are “representative of a population that is one-sixth the size of the United States.”
U.S. studies have shown comparable results in various medical scenarios, but, until this study, research has not been conducted studying admission days in correlation with death rate following a stroke.
The UK study was comprised of 90,000 patients from 2009 to 2010. According to ABC News, researchers analyzed the specific day in which a stroke patient was hospitalized and compared the following indicators of proper stroke care:
- Availability of brain scans
- Availability of clot treatments
- 30-day readmission rates
- Seven-day mortality
- Hospital discharge
According to WebMD, “a stroke is brain damage caused by a blocked blood vessel or bleeding in the brain. The signs of a stroke may include weakness, numbness, blurred vision, confusion, and slurred speech.”
Since, as ABC News reported, 795,000 people in the U.S. suffer a stroke each year, and someone dies from one every four minutes, it’s evident from this study that hospitals should be better staffed on the weekends to avoid “the weekend effect.” Do you think understaffed hospitals should be subject to wrongful death litigation? We welcome your comments below.