BOSTON (AP) -- A Canadian study suggests that people are more likely to die in the hospital if they are admitted on a weekend rather than during the week.
Researchers in Ontario looked at the 100 most common causes of death and found that for 23 of them, the risk of death was significantly greater if patients went to the hospital on a weekend. None of these conditions was less likely to be fatal on weekends.
The researchers said they are not sure why the weekend is riskier, but they said lower hospital staffing is probably the explanation.
The study, conducted by Drs. Chaim M. Bell and Donald A. Redelmeier of the University of Toronto, was published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine. The study was based on analysis of all 3.8 million admissions to Ontario hospitals from 1988-97.
Among the conditions more likely to be fatal on the weekend than on weekdays were ruptured aorta in the abdomen, 42 percent vs. 36 percent; pulmonary embolism, 13 percent vs. 11 percent; and kidney failure, 36 percent vs. 30 percent.
The researchers said they do not believe that people admitted on weekends were significantly sicker, though they could not rule this out. The researchers noted that weekend work is unpopular, and hospitals are less fully staffed.
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