The effect of weekend versus weekday admission on outcomes of esophageal variceal hemorrhage

R P Myers, G G Kaplan, A M Shaheen
Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology 2009, 23 (7): 495-501

BACKGROUND: Hospital staffing is often lower on weekends than weekdays, and may contribute to higher mortality in patients admitted on weekends. Because esophageal variceal hemorrhage (EVH) requires complex management and urgent endoscopic intervention, limitations in physician expertise and the availability of endoscopy on weekends may be associated with increased EVH mortality.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the differences in mortality, hospital length of stay (LOS), and costs between patients admitted on weekends versus patients who were admitted on weekdays.

METHODS: The United States Nationwide Inpatient Sample database was used to identify patients hospitalized for EVH between 1998 and 2005. Differences in mortality, LOS, and costs between patients admitted on weekends and weekdays were evaluated using regression models with adjustment for patient and clinical factors, including the timing of endoscopy.

RESULTS: Between 1998 and 2005, 36,734 EVH admissions to 2207 hospitals met the inclusion criteria. Compared with patients admitted on weekdays, individuals admitted on the weekend were slightly less likely to undergo endoscopy on the day of admission (45% versus 43%, respectively; P=0.01) and by the second day (81% versus 75%; P<0.0001). However, mortality (11.3% versus 10.8%; P=0.20) and the requirement for endoscopic therapy (70% versus 69%; P=0.08) or portosystemic shunt insertion (4.4% versus 4.7%; P=0.32) did not differ between weekend and weekday admissions. After adjusting for confounding factors, including the timing of endoscopy, the risk of mortality was similar between weekend and weekday admissions (OR 1.05; 95% CI 0.97 to 1.14). Although LOS was similar between groups, adjusted hospital charges were 4.0% greater (95% CI 2.3 to 5.8%) for patients hospitalized on the weekend.

CONCLUSIONS: In patients with EVH, admission on the weekend is associated with a small delay in receiving endoscopic intervention, but no difference in mortality or the requirement for portosystemic shunt insertion. The weekend effect observed for some medical and surgical conditions does not apply to patients with EVH.

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