weekend effect

Study finds an increase in risk associated with mothers admitted, and babies born during the weekend, compared with weekdays.


Do days of the week matter when it comes to medical procedures? We have recently reported on the best (and worst) days to have surgery for esophageal cancer:

Esophageal Cancer Outcomes are Better when Surgery Occurs Earlier in the Week

A new study published in the British Medical Journal has investigated the ‘weekend effect’ on the quality and safety of maternity services within the English National Health Service hospitals. Over 1 million patient records were assessed between 2010 and 2012. The researchers assessed outcomes of mortality, emergency re-admissions, infections, injury during birth and perineal tears.

The study reported that for women who were admitted to hospital, and babies who were born at weekends had worse outcomes when compared with weekdays. There was a reported increase in mortality when babies were born at the weekend, in addition to increases in maternal infections, injury during birth, and emergency re-admissions. The researchers reported that around 770 deaths and 470 maternal infections per year could be attributed to the ‘weekend effect’.

While this is the largest study to ever investigate the ‘weekend effect’ in obstetrics care, further research is necessary to determine the reasons for this effect in terms of outcomes. The results of such studies could have important implications for policy and management.




William L Palmer, A Bottle, P Aylin.Association between day of delivery and obstetric outcomes: observational study” BMJ 2015;351:h5774







Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

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