“Weekend Effect” on Care Quality Evaluated in Two Recent Studies

July 13, 2016 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​A pair of studies in the July 9, 2016, issue of Lancetexamine differences in the quality of patient care provided to hospital patients during weekdays and weekends in an attempt to understand the so-called weekend effect leading to poorer care quality for patients admitted on weekends. One study evaluated a theory attributing the weekend effect to reduced availability of physician specialists. The researchers surveyed more than 15,000 specialists in 115 acute hospital trusts in England to obtain data on the time the specialists each spent treating emergency admissions on a Wednesday and a Sunday. Although patients received almost half as much specialist attention on weekends as on weekdays, the researchers found no association between the intensity of specialist staffing and mortality rates. The other study evaluated clinicians' adherence to quality measures in the treatment of more than 74,000 patients admitted for acute stroke at 199 hospitals in England and Wales over a one-year period between 2013 and 2014. The researchers found that adherence to the quality measures varied not only between weekends and weekdays but also across the entire week.

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