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Higher weekend death rate is flawed, study finds

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i2598 (Published 06 May 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i2598
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. London

Fewer patients in England die after being admitted to hospital at the weekend than during the week, a large analysis has found, contradicting claims made by the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to justify imposing new contracts on junior doctors.1

The authors of the research, published in the Journal of Health Services Research and Policy, said their research showed that the so called “weekend effect” is a statistical artefact and that extending services will not reduce the number of deaths. They said that the death rate after a hospital admission at the weekend is higher only because the number of patients admitted at the weekend is lower and they tend to be sicker than those admitted during the week.

Previous studies comparing mortality risk have considered only those patients who were admitted to hospital. The new study instead looked at all patients attending emergency departments including those not admitted, …

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