Don’t have a GI bleed on the weekend, and why you’re more likely to die on Saturday and Sunday

Patients don’t choose the days they get sick.

There are several studies, specifically dealing with heart attacks, showing that the mortality rate increases when a patient visits the hospital during the weekend.

It appears that the same goes for upper GI bleeding. MedPage Today discusses a recent study showing that “patients with nonvariceal upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage had a 22% increased mortality risk on weekends, and those with peptic ulcer-related hemorrhage had an 8% higher risk.”

Staffing issues, leading to delayed endoscopies, appear to be chief culprit. Minutes count in cases of GI bleeding, so the delay is a likely explanation for the higher mortality rates.

Especially in community hospitals, doctors often cover for one another, and in general, there are less physicians available. Short of having more doctors on call, a prospect that faces long odds as hospitals are loathe to pay specialists for additional call, I’m not sure what can be done to rectify this statistic.

One suggestion is to have so-called “bleed teams,” where staff can be quickly mobilized to respond solely to acute GI bleeds. But again, this likely would require more staff, and it’s dubious that hospitals are willing to bear the additional cost.