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Surgery proven more risky near end of the week

Posted in: Medical Negligence 

A recent investigation has revealed a worrying relationship between the success of surgery, and the day of the week on which it is carried out.  Researchers have taken all forms of surgery into account – from knee operations to transplants – and have revealed that a patient is more likely to die if they undergo surgery at the end of the week. 

One specific paper, by the Imperial College London, has unveiled a particularly astonishing figure – suggesting that patients who receive surgery on a Friday are 44% more likely to die than those who undergo surgery on a Monday. 

The data from this paper suggests that the risk of death increases with each subsequent day throughout the week, peaking at the weekend. 

Why is this the case? And what’s going to be done?

Some researchers have suggested that this figure may stem from a lack of aftercare available to patients over the weekend.  Dr Paul Aylin, the leader of the study, agrees with this – stating that there are not enough medical staff available for patients over Saturdays and Sundays.  

Professor Antony Narula, from the Royal College of Surgeons – who was not involved in the research – has described the findings as “not acceptable”.  

Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of NHS England, said: “We have established a forum to develop viable financial and clinical options to help our NHS provide more comprehensive services seven days a week.

In light of these findings, a British Medical Journal report does show that the risk of death regarding planned non-emergency surgery is still very low and that urgent improvements are being made to protect the lives of patients who require emergency surgery, regardless of the day of the week. 


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