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In-Hospital Stroke Deaths Rise on Nights, Weekends
Date:2/20/2008

Staffing changes may be to blame, experts say

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) -- The time of day and day of week a person has a stroke could mean the difference between life and death.

Two new studies find that stroke patients who enter the hospital at night and on weekends are more likely to die in the hospital than those who have strokes at more "regular" hours.

That's not acceptable, one researcher said. "We should not be treating patients differently because they had their stroke on a Saturday night," Dr. David S. Liebeskind, senior author of one of the studies and associate professor of neurology and associate director of the University of California, Los Angeles, Stroke Center. "The time of day and day of week shouldn't matter."

The study, slated for presentation Wednesday at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in New Orleans, is the first to address this topic in the United States and is also much larger than analyses undertaken in other countries.

"Data on really sick patients during off-hours is not new but the specifics to stroke are," said Dr. Jonathan Friedman associate dean of the Bryan-College Station campus at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and assistant professor of surgery and neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at the Health Science Center College of Medicine.

"This is a lot of data and pretty convincing for stroke. It highlights how important systems and institutions are to get the best care 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Friedman, who also directs the Texas Brain and Spine Institute.

Liebeskind and his team analyzed more than 2.4 million stroke cases across the United States. They found that the mortality rate for weekday admissions for all strokes was much lower than weekend admissions (7.9 percent versus 10.1 percent). For ischemic stroke (caused by a block in blood flow), mortality
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