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Weekend emergency surgeries deadlier for children
Date:7/2/2014

Children who undergo simple emergency surgeries, such as hernia repairs or appendix removals, on weekends are more likely to suffer complications and even die than children getting the same kind of treatment during the week, according to results of a Johns Hopkins Children's Center study.

The Johns Hopkins team says that although the number of deaths was small, the marked difference in death and risk of other complications points to a worrisome "weekend effect" observed across hospitals nationwide that calls for an in-depth examination of possible after-hours safety lapses and clinical glitches.

The research findings, published in the July issue of the Journal of Pediatric Surgery, are based on an analysis of 22 years' worth of surgical records involving nearly 440,000 pediatric admissions nationwide.

Specifically, children who underwent urgent or emergency procedures on weekends were 63 percent more likely to die than those treated during the week, the study showed. The investigators emphasize that an individual patient's risk of dying was miniscule and the actual deaths attributable to the weekend effect were very few 30 over the 22 years.

"Numerically speaking, the number of deaths was quite small, but even a single preventable death is one too many. This demands that we examine any factors that may cause or contribute to such occurrences and find ways to prevent them," says senior investigator Fizan Abdullah, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric surgeon at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Although the reasons for this weekend effect were not part of the study, the researchers say some possible factors that may fuel the higher risk include decreased weekend staffing, slower response times and decreased availability of certain imaging and lab tests.

For their analysis, the investigators compared death and complication rates between some 112,000 children treated on weekends with 327,000 patients treated during the week. In additi
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Contact: Ekaterina Pesheva
epeshev1@jhmi.edu
410-502-9433
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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