UK cardiac surgery is safe no matter what day of the week: an analysis of the SCTS database

April 2, 2012

A recent report by the Dr Foster group demonstrated a higher mortality rate for patients admitted as an emergency at the weekend than for patients admitted as an emergency during the week. The report also suggested that hospitals with higher levels of senior staff available at the weekends were associated with lower mortality rates for emergency admissions at the weekend. Another recent study by Freemantle found patients admitted on a weekend were more likely to die in-hospital that patients admitted on a week day.

The Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery in Great Britain and Ireland established its clinical governance and quality improvement programme for adult cardiac surgery performed in NHS hospitals in 2001. This programme has been associated with significant improvements in risk-adjusted mortality rates over time. We have used this database to investigate whether patients who undergo cardiac surgery at the weekend have an increased risk of in-hospital mortality compared to patients who have cardiac surgery during the week.

This analysis demonstrated that for a speciality with an established clinical governance and quality improvement programme and a primarily consultant delivered service, the risk of in-hospital mortality is the same for patients who have surgery at the weekend as it is for patients who have surgery on a weekday.

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