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Weekend A&E patients “significantly older” suggests research


29 January 2016

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Weekend A&E patients are “significantly older” and more physically incapacitated, which may explain increased weekend mortality, researchers said.

The study analysed 536 patients admitted to the acute medical unit of a large teaching hospital in Belfast during November 2012.

Weekend A&E patients are “significantly older” and more physically incapacitated, which may explain increased weekend mortality, researchers said.

The study analysed 536 patients admitted to the acute medical unit of a large teaching hospital in Belfast during November 2012.

While it reflects one hospital, if this is the case elsewhere it could explain the increased weekend mortality rates that Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, has repeatedly called “the weekend effect”.

Patients admitted as medical emergencies were significantly older – on average, more than 3.5 years – than those admitted at other times of the week, the research published in the Emergency Medicine Journal found.

They were also more physically incapacitated than patients admitted during the week, measuring an average score of three on a validated disability scale (Rankin scale), compared with two for weekday admissions.

Patients admitted during the day at weekends were also “more functionally dependent” than those admitted during the day on other days of the week.

The researchers, from Royal Victoria Hospital, also questioned the idea that more senior doctors working at the weekend would make any difference to patient survival rates.

“Additionally, the lack of difference in physiological and laboratory markers of illness acuity presented here questions the plausibility of the inference that increased senior medical presence at the weekend would improve outcomes,” they write.

See the full study here

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