A person’s risk of dying is higher if they are admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the weekend compared to a weekday, according to a study involving 119 ICUs in Austria. Conversely, the risk of dying in the ICU on a weekend is lower than on a weekday, highlighting the complexity of the so-called ‘weekend effect’. The study was published in the open access journal Critical Care.
Dr Paul Zajic, lead author from Medical University Graz, Austria, said: “Our study demonstrates that patients admitted to ICUs at weekends are at increased risk of death. This effect requires thoughtful considerations both by clinicians and policy makers because in the 21st century, the day of admission should not influence patient outcomes. While one must avoid jumping to conclusions based upon retrospective studies, our findings may guide further research, and ultimately lead to systematic improvements that aim to eradicate the ‘weekend effect’.”
Some studies conducted on data from the NHS in the UK have suggested that there is increased risk of death if admitted at the weekend but findings from different studies have been inconsistent.