When it comes to healthcare, the goal is to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients. However, recent studies shed light on a phenomenon known as “the weekend effect.” It means that patients admitted to hospitals on Saturdays and Sundays experience higher in-hospital mortality rates and a lower rate of potentially life-saving procedures compared to those admitted on weekdays.

The phenomenon has been reported across various medical specialties and conditions, including heart attacks, strokes, and surgical procedures.

Reasons Behind The Weekend Effect

In an article in Very Well Health, Naveed Saleh, MD, MS wrote that an increased rate of death among patients admitted to the hospital was a result of delays in time to life-saving treatment. In a hospital setting, a difference of a few minutes can be critical.

The phenomenon may also be tied to a lack of diagnostic services that are available during the weekend as well as reduced access to specialized physicians who are often “on-call” but not physically present.

Variations in hospital workflows could be a contributing factor to a less-than-successful outcome. Weekend and weekday schedules often differ, creating variations in the availability and coordination of services. The result is often the lack of timely care delivery and communication between departments and individuals.

Finally, there is the issue of case severity and patient selection. It has been suggested that patients admitted on weekends may have more severe illnesses or higher-risk conditions. These factors, combined with reduced staffing, may impact patient outcomes.

What To Do?

Based on our experience as medical malpractice lawyers, many medical malpractice claims arise from failures to properly diagnose, manage or treat patients on weekends.

If immediate or urgent medical care is needed, patients should not avoid or delay visiting a hospital despite the weekend effect. The answer is not to avoid hospitals but to pay attention and actively participate in the process.

An experienced medical malpractice attorney will diligently investigate your situation and file a liability claim against the appropriate party. Contact a Chicago medical malpractice attorney to determine if you have a case. In extreme situations, a medical malpractice incident can result in death and lead to the possibility of a wrongful death lawsuit. Our wrongful death attorneys in Chicago can help.