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Trauma patients safe from mortality risks associated with so-called 'weekend effect'
Date:1/22/2010

(PHILADELPHIA) People who are in car crashes or suffer serious falls, gunshot or knife wounds and other injuries at nights or on weekends do not appear to be affected by the same medical care disparities as patients who suffer heart attacks, strokes, cardiac arrests and other time-sensitive illnesses during those "off hours," according to new research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. In contrast to previous, multi-hospital studies showing that patients treated for cardiac or neurological emergencies overnight and on weekends are more likely to experience complications and even die than those who come to the hospital on weekdays, the new pilot findings suggest that trauma patients are insulated from this so-called "weekend effect" tied to the time of day in which they're brought to the hospital.

The new study, which will be presented at the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma on January 22, points to the trauma system's unique organization and staffing as a built-in protection for these critically injured patients. A regionalized system involving both ambulance and helicopter transport dictates that trauma patients be brought to facilities that meet strict requirements for round-the-clock staffing and capabilities for emergency medicine, radiology, surgery, and post-operative intensive care. One key differentiator from most other medical and surgical specialties in which staffing and resources vary on nights and weekends -- is that Level 1 trauma centers like the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where the research was conducted, are required to have an attending trauma surgeon immediately available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

"Patients arriving at a hospital with a heart attack or a stroke may find themselves at a facility unable to optimally manage their condition especially at night and on the weekend. We found that no matter when you are injured, you get the same type of
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Contact: Holly Auer
holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu
215-200-2313
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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