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CHICAGO – Is the “weekend effect” an issue at your hospital? A new study on kidney stone treatment might prompt you to find out.
The research, published in the Journal of Urology, found that patients with severe cases of kidney stones are 26% less likely to receive timely treatment when they're admitted to the hospital on the weekend.
The study by researchers at Loyola Medicine and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine is touted as the first to show how the "weekend effect" affects kidney stone treatment and outcomes.
Study authors note that previous research involving other conditions has found that weekend patients experience delayed treatments, longer hospital stays, higher mortality rates, and more readmissions.
For this study, investigators examined records of 10,301 patients admitted to hospitals in Florida and California from 2007 to 2011. The patients received decompression as urgent kidney stone treatment, with delayed treatment defined as occurring more than 48 hours after admission.
Weekend day admission significantly influenced time to intervention, decreasing patient odds of timely intervention by 26%, according to the study. It indicated that 35% of the kidney stone patients received delayed decompression treatment.
The delay resulted in a 0.47% mortality rate, nearly three times higher than that of patients who received early treatment.
"The implication of these findings is that hospitals and clinicians should strive to deliver the same prompt, high-quality care over the weekend as during the work week," study authors emphasized.
In addition to weekend patients, kidney stone patients more likely to experience delayed treatment were African Americans, Hispanics, and patients who were uninsured or had public insurance such as Medicare and Medicaid, according to the study.
“Delayed operative intervention for acute nephrolithiasis admissions with indications for decompression results in increased patient mortality,” study authors concluded. “Nonmedical factors such as the ‘weekend effect,’ race, and insurance provider exerted the greatest influence on the timing of intervention.”