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Trauma Patients Seem More Likely to Survive on Weekends

TUESDAY March 22, 2011 -- Trauma injury patients who arrive at the hospital on the weekend or a weeknight are no more likely to die than those who arrive on a weekday, a new study has found.

The findings contrast with previous research that said patients with health emergencies such as heart attack or stroke have worse outcomes if they arrive at the hospital at night or on weekends.

In this new study, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers analyzed data from 90,461 patients treated at Pennsylvania's 32 accredited trauma centers between 2004 and 2008.

About one-quarter of the patients arrived on weeknights and about 40 percent arrived on weekends.

In addition to the finding that trauma patients -- including crash victims and those who have been shot or stabbed -- appeared to be more likely to survive if they arrived at the hospital on a weekend, the investigators also found that patients who arrived on weeknight and weekends needing crucial brain or abdominal surgeries, such as those often required for trauma patients, did not have to wait longer for care than weekday patients.

"Trauma systems have been designed to maximize rapid access to trauma care, and our results show that the system also offers special protection for patients injured during periods that are known to be connected to worse outcomes among patients with time-sensitive illnesses," study author Dr. Brendan G. Carr, an assistant professor in the departments of emergency medicine and biostatistics and epidemiology, said in a university news release.

However, patients who arrived on weeknights and weekends did have longer intensive care unit stays, and those who arrived on weeknights had longer hospital stays than those who arrived on weekdays, the investigators found.

These findings may be due to hospital factors not entirely related to the patient's condition, including greater access to hospital resources, such as doctors' time, and more available beds because few elective admissions and surgeries occur on weekends, the researchers suggested.

The study was published in the March 21 issue of the Archives of Surgery.

More information

The World Health Organization discusses injury prevention.

Posted: March 2011


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