Patients admitted to the hospital on weekends wait for major procedures

Research Activities, April 2010, No. 356

Of the 8 million patients who were admitted to U.S. hospitals on weekends in 2007, approximately one-third received needed major procedures on the day of admission, according to the latest data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Yet 65 percent of patients who were admitted on weekdays received needed major procedures on their first day in the hospital.

Patients who were admitted on weekends were nearly three times more likely to be there due to emergencies, such as heart attack, stomach bleeding, fractures, or internal injuries than patients hospitalized on a weekday (28 vs. 11 percent). In addition, 65 percent of patients admitted on weekends were initially seen in hospital emergency departments compared with 44 percent of weekday-admitted patients.

The Agency's analysis also found that:

  • Nearly 7 of every 10 patients hospitalized on a weekend were admitted through the emergency department compared with roughly 4 in 10 patients admitted during a weekday.
  • Sixty-four percent of heart attack patients admitted on a weekend had a major cardiac procedure such as angioplasty or heart bypass surgery performed by the second day of their hospitalization compared with 76 percent of heart attack patients admitted on a weekday.
  • A smaller share of weekend than weekday admissions received treatment on the day of admission for back surgery (35 vs. 90 percent); angina (23 vs. 37 percent); gallbladder removal (23 vs. 32 percent); and hernia repair (54 vs. 68 percent).
  • Weekday admissions were often planned in advance. For example, 99 percent of admissions for osteoarthritis and 93 percent of those for back problems occurred on weekdays.
  • About 2.4 percent of patients admitted on a weekend died in the hospital compared with 1.8 percent of patients admitted on a weekday.

These findings are based on data from the report Characteristics of Weekday and Weekend Hospital Admissions. The report uses statistics from the 2007 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of nationally representative hospital inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured. You can view the report at http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb87.jsp.

Current as of April 2010
Internet Citation: Patients admitted to the hospital on weekends wait for major procedures: Research Activities, April 2010, No. 356. April 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/apr10/0410RA1.html