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Steven J. Klearman
Steven J. Klearman
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Are Nevada Hospitals Safe at Night?

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I’ve long had the idea that it’s best not to go to the hospital at night or on weekends. It’s clear that in Nevada, like many states, hospital staffing levels differ between day and night, weekend and weekday. If you are seriously ill, I strongly urge you to have a friend or relative stay with you overnight during your hospitalization. While this may be extremely burdensome, or simply downright impossible, I believe that there are good reasons to have an observer/advocate with you when you need one.

Dr. Joseph Mercola cites a report from the New England Journal of Medicine for the following thoughts in this regard:

Lower levels of hospital staffing on weekends may increase the risk of death among patients with some life-threatening disorders.

A study of nearly 3.8 million emergency hospitalizations in Canada found that patients with certain medical conditions were more likely to die if they were admitted on a Saturday or Sunday compared with patients admitted from Monday through Friday.

For instance, patients with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm — a tearing in the artery wall that causes potentially fatal bleeding — were 28% more likely to die when they were admitted on a weekend, the investigators found.

Also, patients with pulmonary embolism, in which an artery in the lung is blocked with a clot or other material, or acute epiglottitis, an infection that causes severe swelling of the structure that closes the windpipe when a person swallows, were also at increased risk of death if they were brought to the hospital on a weekend.

The findings support the results of previous studies. The rate of death among infants born on a Saturday or Sunday is slightly higher than the death rate among babies born during the week, for instance, while patients who overdose on drugs may fare worse on the weekends.

The researchers note that working on the weekend is unpopular and that people who work on a Saturday or Sunday may have less experience than those who work during the week.

For more, see, The New England Journal of Medicine August 30, 2001;345:663-668