Emergency admissions at weekend "more likely to die"

LONDON (Reuters) - The likelihood of emergency patients dying in hospital is seven percent higher for those admitted at the weekend than during the week, according to a study on Friday.

Research by the Dr Foster Unit and the Department of Acute Medicine at Imperial College, London used centrally collected, national administrative data and looked at 163 hospitals in the 2005/6 period.

The data is “a flag to say there appears to be a problem,” said Dr Paul Aylin who worked on the project.

“Similar findings have been found in the US,” he told Reuters.

Although the data showed there was a problem, it did not show the reasons.

Various hypotheses have included the possibility that staffing levels are different at the weekend and that diagnostics are not necessarily as available.

Aylin recommended that a review of deaths in hospitals, a case-note audit or an investigation into what is different about services given at the weekend, should be carried out.

Reporting by Jonathan Parr; Editing by Steve Addison