Medical malpractice attorneys will not be surprised. A study released yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine finds a higher death rate for people who go the hospital for heart attacks on the weekends than during the week. The reason is that fewer invasive cardiac procedures are performed.
The study tracked over 200,000 patients and found about a 1% difference. And the reason for the difference, the authors suggest, may be due to a difference in staffing levels.
These staffing concerns do not surprise me. I’m not sure if it’s been studied, but I would bet the worst time to go a hospital is the July 4th weekend. And I think few doctors would disagree. New residents are created on July 1st, and existing residents move up a year to new responsibilities. Match that with many attending physicians taking off time for a holiday week, and a problem is created.
When hospital staffing levels drop, patients suffer.