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5 Ways Hospitals Can Beat the ‘Weekend Effect’

Perioperative infrastructure improvements may reduce mortality and readmissions

A study has identified five ways that hospitals can fight the higher rates of mortality, complications, and readmissions experienced by surgical patients who undergo emergency procedures over the weekend.

Researchers from Loyola University Medical Center and Loyola University Chicago base their advice on an examination of data from 126,666 patients at 166 Florida hospitals from 2007 to 2011. Their research follows findings earlier this year showing that patients all over the developed world who are admitted to hospitals on Saturdays and Sundays are more likely to die than those admitted on a weekday. As reported by Fierce Healthcare, that study found the chance of death was 8% higher in 11 hospitals in England, 13% greater in five hospitals in the United States, and 20% more likely in six Dutch hospitals.

The Loyola study authors hypothesized that boosting hospital resources before, during, and after surgery would reduce the length of patient stays, as well as the risk of death and costly readmissions. Five factors played a particularly important role:

  • A lower number of beds per nurse: Hospitals that focus on improved staffing ratios were 1.44 times more likely to overcome the weekend effect.
  • An integrated home health care program: The weekend effect was less pronounced at institutions that provide patients with home visits by skilled home health care workers who help with wound care and the administration of medications.
  • Fully electronic medical records systems: These help health care providers avoid medical errors and redundant care. Hospitals with electronic records were 4.74 times more likely to beat the weekend effect.
  • Inpatient physical rehabilitation programs: These programs help health care providers determine who will need additional help at home, such as patients with a risk of falls.
  • Programs for pain management: Seven out of 10 hospitals that overcame the weekend effect had pain management programs, compared with 49.3% of hospitals that had persistent weekend effects.

The Loyola researchers published their findings in the October 2015 edition of the journal Annals of Surgery.

Source: Fierce Healthcare, October 9, 2015.

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