Patients admitted to English hospitals at the weekend face an eight per cent higher risk of death, according to new research.
The "weekend effect" has been previously identified in England, but the new study across several developed countries reveals it is also evident in Australia, the USA and the Netherlands, suggesting the causes are common to many healthy systems.
The researchers looked at data on almost three million admissions between 2009 and 2012 from 28 hospitals.
They focused on deaths occurring in hospital within 30 days of an emergency admission or elective surgery.
They found that, after taking account of patient factors, the risk of dying within 30 days was higher for emergency admissions at weekends for hospitals in three out of the four countries.
All patients admitted at the weekend for planned surgery were more likely to die within 30 days across the board than those admitted on other days of the week.
Professor Paul Aylin, who led the research, at Imperial College London, said: "Although these results are limited to the small number of participating hospitals, the international nature of our database suggests that this is a systematic phenomenon affecting healthcare providers across borders."
The researchers suggest that certain diagnoses and procedures may be particularly sensitive to reduced access to test results and diagnostics at weekends.
Similarly, weekend staff may be fewer in number and less experienced, while patients requiring urgent care may have to wait longer, which might affect the success of any treatment and interventions.Reuse content