The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regards serious preventable hospital-acquired conditions as “never events.” In this study, investigators used a nationwide U.S. hospital database to compare risks for 11 serious hospital-acquired conditions after weekend or weekday admissions. The database contained records on 351 million patients who were discharged from 2002 through 2010; 19% were admitted on weekends.
The frequencies of these hospital-acquired conditions were 5.7% for weekend admissions and 3.7% for weekday admissions. The most common hospital-acquired conditions were falls or trauma, pressure ulcers, and catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Adjusted for multiple patient, hospital, and severity-of-admission factors, the probability of experiencing at least one hospital-acquired condition was 21% higher for patients admitted on weekends than for those admitted on weekdays.
This information is not surprising since most hospitals operate with a very lean staff on weekends, but this increased occurrence of hospital-acquired infections does lead to higher hospital costs and may make hospitals balance this increased cost with the cost of increased staffing.