FRIDAY, Nov. 19, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Among patients with end-stage kidney disease, those who are admitted to the hospital over a weekend are more likely to die earlier than those admitted on weekdays, new research suggests.
"Further research is needed to identify the reasons for this 'weekend effect' and to institute appropriate interventions," study co-author Dr. Ankit Sakhuja, a resident in internal medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, said in a news release from the American Society of Nephrology.
Sakhuja and colleagues examined the medical records of patients who were hospitalized, and compared those who entered the hospitals on weekdays with those who were admitted on weekends. In 2007, about 20 percent of hospitalizations for people with end-stage kidney disease took place during the weekend.
After adjusting their statistics so they wouldn't be thrown off by factors such as other medical conditions and hospital characteristics, the researchers found that the end-stage kidney disease patients admitted over the weekend were 17 percent more likely to die in the hospital compared to those admitted on weekdays.
It also took longer -- typically about one-third of a day longer -- for patients admitted on weekends to begin dialysis, the study authors noted.
Sakhuja said other research has shown a negative "weekend effect" in the treatment of other diseases, perhaps due to limited staffing and resources on weekends.
"The restricted dialysis services on weekends may result in delayed care of the fluid and electrolyte imbalances, which can result in higher mortality," Sakhuja explained in the news release. "Our study stresses the need to redesign hospital staffing models to assure improved staff and dialysis availability for patients dependent on dialysis over the weekends."
The study was scheduled for presentation Thursday at the American Society of Nephrology's annual meeting and scientific exposition in Denver. Because the study hasn't been published in a peer-reviewed journal, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary.
For more on kidney disease, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.