The mortality rate at hospitals is twice as high on weekends and holidays when compared to weekdays at hospitals, according to a research project conducted by Flemming Madsen, the head doctor at the Allergy and Lung Clinic in Helsingør.
“The mortality rate is over twice as high during weekends and holidays compared to weekdays,” Madsen told Metroexpress. “It is a huge difference.”
Madsen studied 2.65 million admissions from 1995 to 2012 and published his findings in the journal 'Health Affairs' last month.
The health system has been aware of the so-called 'weekend effect' for years.
“It is something we have tried to warn the system about for years,” Madsen told Metroexpress.
“There continues to be fewer doctors and nurses on duty during weekends and holidays, so I decided to compile hard data and document the problem.”
A serious problem
The head of regional health authority Danske Regioner, Bent Hansen, said that he takes the subject and the survey very seriously.
“Patient safety and quality in hospitals is at the top of the regional agenda right now,” he said.
“It may require investment, and fortunately it sounds, at this time, like the government knows that there is a need for more resources in the health sector.”
Patient advocacy group Danske Patienter said that it makes no sense that staff are cut so deeply on the weekends that twice as many people die.
A representative from the Danish nurses' association said that they were not surprised that more errors occur at times when fewer nurses were on duty.
SF health spokesperson Özlem Cekic wants hospital regions, doctors and nurses to meet with Nick Hækkerup, the heath minister, to see what can be done to solve the problem.
“We need to act,” she said.