Think twice about surgery on weekend


People who undergo weekend non-emergency surgery in English public hospitals have an 82 percent higher chance of dying within a month than those treated on a Monday, research shows.

The odds stacked up for every successive day of the week, with the death risk from Friday surgery 44 percent higher than Monday, said a study published in the British Medical Journal. Lower weekend staffing levels may be to blame, according to the researchers, who statistically analyzed 27,582 deaths occurring within 30 days of over 4 million elective surgeries performed in public hospitals in the U.K. between 2008 and 2011.

The weekend risk increased further for deaths within two days of an operation, to 167 percent — and this despite the fact that weekend patients generally had less risky surgery, the team said. Only about 4.5 percent of the procedures listed were performed on a weekend.

Study leader Paul Aylin said the risk of death from non-emergency surgery was “quite low” — about 0.67 percent, but as a patient, “I would want to be reassured that the services at my hospital were running at adequate levels over the weekend period.”