Emergency Surgery on the Weekend Is Riskier
If your child needs emergency surgery, here’s hoping it’s not on a weekend. A study published last month in The Journal of Pediatric Surgery suggests that kids undergoing emergency surgery on the weekend have more complications and deaths than if they’d had similar treatment during the week.
Researchers used a large national database, according to the New York Times, to compare 112,064 weekend surgeries on children younger than 18 with 327,393 such procedures on weekdays. All were coded as “emergencies,” and included appendectomies, brain shunts, hernias, bone fractures and abscess drainage.
Only about 1 in 100 had complications, and fewer than 1 in 1,000 died. But patients undergoing their surgeries on the weekend were:
- 40% likelier to have an accidental puncture or cut;
- 14% percent likelier to receive a transfusion; and
- 63% likelier to die.
The lead author said that although mortality was low, over 20 years the number of weekend deaths would be about 50 more.
What can parents do about it? Obviously, you can't schedule when an accident is going to happen that requires surgery. But being aware that weekends carry higher complication rates can help make parents more alert to staffing issues and the need for vigilance by family members following an operation on a loved one. If something doesn't seem right, say so!
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