Hospital death rates for pancreatic cancer up 36% at weekends
According to the latest analyses, the death rate for emergency treatment of some conditions, including pancreatic cancer can increase to nearly 40 per cent for those admitted at the weekend compared with being admitted during the week.
For pancreatic cancer, the in-hospital death rate for patients admitted during the week was 25 per cent. However, that rises to 34 per cent for admissions on a Saturday or Sunday – an increase of nine percentage points but a 36 per cent uplift in relative risk. Out of the diseases analysed, only aneurysms fared worse with a 10 per cent increase and a 37% relative risk.
Research in 2011 had highlighted the general issue of higher weekend mortality for those patients receiving unplanned treatment which seemed to reflect the effect of fewer staff, especially consultants, at the weekend. Carried out by Dr.Foster Intelligence as part of their Hospital Guide 2011 mortality rates were calculated using NHS data.
The same group looked in more depth at the data for the 2012 guide to reveal the risk for individual conditions which they have released this year.They looked at the 12 biggest conditions where death rates for weekend admissions are higher than for weekday admissions. This is in the hope that hospitals will be able to identify which of their patients are most at risk at weekends.
The reasons cited for this increased weekend mortality risk is the lack of senior hospital staff, including consultants – reflecting the fact that the the NHS is not offering a full seven-day service. Also the research revealed much lower access to some key medical tests such as CT and MRI scans at the weekend.
For serious cancers such as pancreatic, another theory has been put forward suggesting that increased weekend mortality is not all about hospital services. It has been suggested by the report’s authors that some cancer patients, including pancreatic cancer patients who had been on end of life care, and wanted to die at home, had actually been admitted into a hospital at the weekend because of the lack of community support.
Source: Dr Foster Intelligence.
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