Date Published: January 29, 2019
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): James D. O’Leary, Hannah Wunsch, Anne-Marie Leo, David Levin, Asad Siddiqui, Mark W. Crawford, Zirui Song
Abstract: BackgroundHealthcare interventions on weekends have been associated with increased mortality and adverse clinical outcomes, but these findings are inconsistent. We hypothesized that patients admitted to hospital on weekends who have surgery have an increased risk of death compared with patients who are admitted and have surgery on weekdays.Methods and findingsThis matched cohort study included 318,202 adult patients from Ontario health administrative and demographic databases, admitted to acute care hospitals from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2015. A total of 159,101 patients who were admitted on weekends and underwent noncardiac surgery were classified by day of surgery (weekend versus weekday) and matched 1:1 to patients who both were admitted and had surgery on a weekday (Tuesday to Thursday); matching was based on age (in years), anesthesia basic unit value for the surgical procedure, median neighborhood household income quintile, resource utilization band (a ranking system of overall morbidity), rurality of home location, year of admission, and urgency of admission. Of weekend admissions, 16.2% (25,872) were elective and 53.9% (85,744) had surgery on the weekend of admission. The primary outcome was all-cause mortality within 30 days of the date of hospital admission. The 30-day all-cause mortality for patients admitted on weekends who had noncardiac surgery was 2.6% (4,211/159,101) versus 2.5% (3,901/159,101) for those who were admitted and had surgery on weekdays (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.05; 95% CI 1.00 to 1.11; P = 0.03). However, there was significant heterogeneity in the increased odds of death according to the urgency of admission and when surgery was performed (weekend versus weekday). For urgent admissions on weekends (n = 133,229), there was no significant increase in odds of mortality when surgery was performed on the weekend (adjusted OR 1.02; 95% CI 0.95 to 1.09; P = 0.7) or on a subsequent weekday (adjusted OR 1.05; 95% CI 0.98 to 1.12; P = 0.2) compared to urgent admissions on weekdays. Elective admissions on weekends (n = 25,782) had increased risk of death both when surgery was performed on the weekend (adjusted OR 3.30; 95% CI 1.98 to 5.49; P < 0.001) and when surgery was performed on a subsequent weekday (adjusted OR 2.70; 95% CI 1.81 to 4.03; P < 0.001). The main limitations of this study were the lack of data regarding reason for admission and cause of increased time interval from admission to surgery for some cases, the small number of deaths in some subgroups (i.e., elective surgery), and the possibility of residual unmeasured confounding from increased illness severity for weekend admissions.ConclusionsWhen patients have surgery during their hospitalization, admission on weekends in Ontario, Canada, was associated with a small but significant proportional increase in 30-day all-cause mortality, but there was significant heterogeneity in outcomes depending on the urgency of admission and when surgery was performed. An increased risk of death was found only for elective admissions on weekends; whether this is a function of patient-level factors or represents a true weekend effect needs to be further elucidated. These findings have potential implications for resource allocation in hospitals and the redistribution of elective surgery to weekends.
Partial Text: Healthcare interventions on weekends have been associated with increased mortality and adverse clinical outcomes [1–11], but these findings are inconsistent [12–15]. The overall interpretation of studies of different populations, healthcare systems, and procedures has generated much controversy and debate regarding the possibility of a “weekend effect” impacting the quality of healthcare [10,16].
This study of 159,101 matched hospital admissions of patients who subsequently had surgery in Ontario, Canada, showed a small but significant proportional increase in 30-day all-cause mortality for patients who were admitted on weekends compared with patients admitted on weekdays, but with significant heterogeneity in outcomes according to the urgency of admission and when surgery was performed (weekend versus weekday). Elective admissions on weekends (16% of the cohort) were associated with the highest relative increases in crude and adjusted odds of death, regardless of whether surgery was performed on the weekend or on a subsequent weekday. For urgent weekend admissions, the study found no increase in odds of death when surgery was performed either on the weekend of admission or on a subsequent weekday.