Weekend surgery not associated with increased risk of death

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Findings from a new study question the so-called “weekend effect”.

Previous studies have pointed to the existence of a so-called ‘weekend effect’ whereby patients who undergo surgery on Saturdays or Sundays are at greater risk of death than those who undergo surgery midweek. Experts have suggested this may be due to restricted access to expertise and resources at the weekend.

However, these findings have been challenged by a new study, which found that undergoing surgery at the weekend had no effect on patients’ short- or long-term survival.

As part of the study, which is the first to report analysis of a complete national dataset, researchers examined data for more than 50,000 emergency surgery cases in Scotland over a three-year period between 2005 and 2007. Patient outcomes were tracked until 2012.

The authors found there was no difference in overall survival after surgery undertaken on any particular day compared with Wednesday; a borderline reduction in perioperative mortality was seen on Tuesday. They also found that patients who had surgery at the weekend were more likely to have been operated on sooner than those who had weekday surgery.
The study is published in the British Journal of Surgery .

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