Deaths from kidney injuries increase with weekend admissions

Studies have shown that patients suffering from a variety of conditions receive later and potentially lower-quality care if admitted to hospitals on a weekend versus a weekday, and those with acute kidney injuries (AKI) appear to be no exception, according to a study in the upcoming issue of Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

The researchers, led by Matthew James, MD, from the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, found that AKI patients admitted on a weekend, rather than weekday, were 22 percent more likely to die by day three of admission, with a 7 percent increased risk of dying during the length of their hospital stay. For small hospitals, the increased odds of death rose to 34 percent and 17 percent, respectively. The investigators also found an increased risk of death following a weekend admission among patients who were admitted for other conditions but later diagnosed with AKI during their hospital stay.

Although the authors stated that the underlying reasons for increased mortality associated with weekend admissions required further investigation, they did note that patients admitted on weekends tended to be more severely ill and that poor weekend access to kidney specialists and dialysis could compromise survival.

William McClellan, MD, of Emory University, wrote in an editorial that the study was well-designed and that its results should encourage investigators to identify "potentially modifiable risk factors that contribute to mortality differences" so that efforts can be made to reduce AKI patients' risk of dying when admitted to the hospital on a weekend. McClellan also noted that it may be useful for researchers to drill down into weekend vs. weekday variances in specific components of recommended care, such as timely consultation with kidney specialists.

To learn more:
- check out this American Society of Nephrology press release
- read this MedPage Today article