Yet More Evidence That You Should Stay Away From Hospitals on Weekends

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A couple of months ago I blogged about a study showing that your odds of dying after elective surgery are a lot higher if the surgery is done on a Friday or a weekend. Most likely, this is due to lower staffing levels during the 48 hours after surgery, which is when most complications set in. The moral of the story was pretty simple: if you have a choice, get your surgery done between Monday and Thursday.

Today brings further evidence of the folly of going to the hospital on the weekend. This one comes courtesy of Aaron Carroll, who points us to a study of infants admitted to pediatric hospitals with a diagnosis of failure to thrive. Basically, this means that the baby isn’t gaining weight as quickly as normal, or is even losing weight, and I gather from Aaron’s post that it’s rarely an emergency situation. However, it involves lots of tests and consults, and those tests and consults often aren’t available on weekends. As a result, nothing happens until all the doctors and technicians return to work on Monday.

The chart on the right shows how this works out. If your baby is admitted on a weekday, the average length of stay is five days and the average cost is about $9,000. But if your baby is admitted on a weekend, the average length of stay is seven days and the average cost is about $13,000. For all practical purposes, it looks like the babies just sit around over the weekend and then start getting treated on Monday.

Obviously you don’t always have a choice of what day you go to the hospital. But if you do, don’t go on a weekend. Stick to weekdays, when there are actually doctors around to treat you.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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