Patients Admitted to Hospitals on a Weekend Wait for Major Procedures

Release date: March 4, 2010

For example, patients who were admitted on weekends were nearly 3 times more likely to be there due to emergencies such as heart attack, stomach bleeding, fractures, or internal injuries than patients hospitalized on a weekday (28 percent versus 11 percent). In addition, 65 percent of patients admitted on a weekend were initially seen in hospital emergency departments, compared with 44 percent of weekday-admitted patients.

The Federal agency's analysis also found that:

  • Nearly 7 of every 10 patients hospitalized on a weekend were admitted through the emergency department, compared with roughly 4 in 10 patients admitted during a weekday.
  • Sixty-four percent of heart attack patients admitted on a weekend had a major cardiac procedure, such as angioplasty or heart bypass surgery, performed by the second day of their hospitalization, compared with 76 percent of heart attack patients admitted on a weekday. A smaller share of weekend than weekday admissions received treatment on the day of admission for back surgery (35 percent versus 90 percent); angina (23 percent versus 37 percent); gallbladder removal (23 percent versus 32 percent); and hernia repair (54 percent versus 68 percent).
  • Weekday admissions were often planned in advance. For example, 99 percent of admissions for osteoarthritis and 93 percent of those for back problems occurred on weekdays.
  • About 2.4 percent of patients admitted on a weekend died in the hospital, compared with 1.8 percent of patients admitted on a weekday.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in Characteristics of Weekday and Weekend Hospital Admission. The report uses statistics from the 2007 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at [email protected] or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of March 2010