The weekend effect on death rates

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Health Economics is not exactly light entertainment, but there are writers at the Academic Health Economists blog who write clearly and simply about it, well enough for News from Nowhere moles to grasp a point or two. Sam Watson, blogging on September 22nd, is a good example. Pondering on the debate about whether there is a weekend effect on death rates of people admitted to hospital, he says:

“I think part of the problem lies with the mindset of there either is or there isn’t a weekend effect on death rates. It’s a bad way to think about it; care does differ between the weekend and weekdays therefore it is quite plausible that care quality differs as well. I don’t think many people believe in what we’ll call strong weekendism, which might be described as there being no patient who would experience a different overall health outcome if they are admitted at the weekend or on a weekday. However, some people may take the weak weekendism position, which might state that no patient who was admitted on a weekend and who died would have survived had they been admitted on a weekday. However I think both the strong and weak positions are too strong, the most plausible position in my view is that care quality is worse at the weekend. It’s just a question of how much”.

One Reply to “The weekend effect on death rates”

  1. If as seems likely there is a positive correlation between the quality of care – both objective and subjective – and the level of healthcare process activity then it is clear that the quality of care must decline at weekends. My own experience of visiting relatives in hospital at weekends is that the whole pace of activity changes markedly. One almost gets the sense that some of those who choose to work at weekends do so because they can get away with doing very little. Overall the atmosphere at weekends I found was rather depressing.

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