Study: Is having surgery on weekend really worse than during week?

EDENBURGH, Scotland — If you’ve heard the old myth that having surgery on the weekend leads to a greater risk of dying, rest assured it’s just a myth and nothing more, a new study finds.

Researchers at the University of Edenburgh in Scotland looked at over 50,000 Scottish emergency cases from 2005 to 2007, hoping to determine whether those who elected to be operated on over the weekend were more likely to experience dire circumstances in the long- or short-term, including death.

About 31,000 of the patients had an emergency procedure on Monday to Thursday, and 19,000 on Friday to Sunday.

Person having surgery
A new study examines whether the old myth that claims having surgery on the weekend is far riskier than being operated on during the week is true.

In order to determine long-term consequences, the study tracked the health outcomes of its participants until 2012, while simultaneously controlling for other risk factors.

Previous studies have pointed out how having reduced staff on weekends, particularly when it comes to trained professionals, can contribute to a higher rate of surgical danger.

For the sake of their inquiry, the researchers found that those who undergo “emergency surgeries”— which comprise about one-third of total surgeries in the UK— are eight times more likely to die than those who undergo a less urgent surgery.

The researchers, however, didn’t find evidence to support the notion of a certain day or time of the week being less safe to undergo an operation.

In fact, there was a tangible benefit to being admitted on a weekend— namely, patients were treated sooner.

While the study’s dataset wasn’t as large as some previous studies, it still helps debunk a popular myth.

The study’s findings were published in the British Journal of Surgery.


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