If you are on the path to a heart attack or even cancer, new research shows you would be better off fronting a hospital outside of weekend hours.
The medical research from the University of NSW reveals patients are up to 15 per cent more likely to die if they have been admitted through a emergency department between Saturday morning until midnight on Sunday.
The research, published today in the British Medical Journal Quality and Safety, found these ‘‘excess deaths’’ from acute heart problems were linked with a pattern associated to reduced availability of clinical services.
This includes a lack of full range treatments and testing services.
In other cases, including forms of cancer, the ‘‘weekend effect’’ is likely caused because sicker people are turning up after regular hours.
UNSW Australia Institute of Health Innovation Professor Enrico Coiera says reduced service levels at hospitals on weekends may need to be re-evaluated.‘‘Illness occurs 24/7 and not just in normal business hours,’’ he said.
‘‘Perhaps the provision of hospital services, including the way that services are rostered and funded need to be examined closely to better reflect the constancy of illness.
’’The research, which is based on seven years of NSW hospitals data, shows overall weekends accounted for more than a quarter of all hospital admissions and 28 per cent of deaths.
Prof Coiera said weekend admissions were necessary and patients should not hold out until Monday morning.
‘‘However, patients and GPs should also be aware that for some illness groups, it’s not a good idea to be struggling during the week and then go to hospital on Friday,’’ he said.
‘‘Depending on your location, you may not have the full suite of services at the weekend.’’