Higher death risk in end of week surgery

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Patients who undergo pre-planned surgery are more likely to die if their operations are conducted at the end of the week, a new study suggests.

Death rates for elective surgery patients are lowest on Mondays and increase for each subsequent day of the week, researchers said.

The odds of death were 44 per cent higher for patients who had planned operations on a Friday than on a Monday, the study published on bmj.com found.

Researchers, who looked at data concerning more than four million elective procedures conducted in NHS hospitals between 2008 and 2011, found the risk of dying was higher still if the operation was carried out at the weekend (an 82 per cent increased risk compared to a Monday), but stressed that the vast majority of elective procedures are carried out during the working week.

The authors from Imperial College London said the findings could reflect differences in quality of care at the weekend.

“The first 48 hours after an operation are often the most critical period of care for surgery patients,” said lead author Dr Paul Aylin, from the School of Public Health at Imperial.