The New York Times recently reported the results of a Journal of Pediatric Surgery study that found that emergency surgeries performed on children over a weekend resulted in more complications and deaths.

The study compared 112,064 weekend operations with 327,393 weekday operations involving children under the age of 18. All procedures (weekend and weekday) were performed on the day of admissions and were classified as emergency treatment such as appendectomies, brain shunts, hernias, bone fractures, and abscess drainage.

Although the number of untoward results was very small (1% of the patients encountered complications and less than one-tenth of 1% of the patients died), those undergoing weekend procedures were:

  • 40% more likely to receive an accidental cut or puncture
  • 14% more likely to receive a transfusion
  • 63% more likely to die.

If weekend procedures had the same outcomes as weekday procedures, according to the researchers, there would be 50 fewer deaths over a 20-year-period.

The reasons for the weekday-to-weekend variance were not reported nor was there specific mention of emergency room negligence or medical malpractice, but the study’s authors attribute possible factors to reduced hospital staff on weekends, slower response times, and less accessibility to certain imaging and lab tests.