If you could control when you got sick enough to need hospital care, it might be worth doing. According to a new study coming out in the Feb. 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, hospital care may be significantly worse on the weekends and at night than on weekdays. After reviewing the survival rates among patients across the country who experienced cardiac arrest during their hospital stays, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University found that patient mortality rates were higher at certain times of day and on weekends, even when they factored in clinical variables like the patient's condition and what the different heart rhythms were.
"We looked at a tremendous number of patients at a comprehensive cross-section of hospitals around the country and found that survival was substantially lower at night, compared to day and evening, and on weekends regardless of what time of day it was," says Dr. Mary Ann Peberdy, who directed the study.
Peberdy and her colleagues looked at data on 86,748 adult in-hospital cardiac arrests occurring at 507 hospitals between 2000 and 2007, and found that the survival rate during weekdays and weekday evenings was 20.6 percent, while the survival rate on the weekend was only 17.4 percent and an even more disturbing 14.7 percent at night. That means patients were about 41 percent more likely to survive if they were treated during the day from Monday to Friday.