Patients, who are due for surgery or hospital treatment during certain times of the month, or even certain days of the week, have a much higher risk of dying. This phenomenon is called the “July Effect” in which patients are much more likely to be exposed to the risk of medical errors in the month of July as interns enter hospitals. A new study confirms that the risk of fatality after surgery is highest in the afternoons, on weekends, and when patients are admitted to a hospital in the month of February.
The study was presented recently at the European Society of Anesthesiology Meeting in Stockholm in Sweden. The researchers analyzed data involving 219,000 patients, who had surgical procedures between 2006 and 2011. They found in the analysis of the data that patients who had surgery in the afternoon, had a 21% higher likelihood of dying, compared to patients who had surgery during other times of the day.
Patients who had surgery on the weekend had a 22% higher likelihood of death, compared to those who had their surgeries on weekdays. February was also a deadly time to go to a hospital for surgery, or for any kind of treatment. Patients who underwent surgeries in February had a 16% greater likelihood of dying, compared to those who underwent surgery during the other months.
Earlier unrelated studies have indicated a higher risk of fatality for patients admitted into the hospital on weekends. This is because many of the top doctors and specialists may be off on weekends, and many hospitals operate with a skeletal staff on weekends. That means a patient may not receive the immediate care that he requires when he is seriously ill, or suffering from a medical emergency. It also means that the patient may not get the kind of specialized care that he needs.