Neurology: Stroke patients admitted on weekends more likely to die
Patients with an onset of stroke symptoms and who were admitted to the hospital on a weekend were more likely to die compared to patients who were admitted on a weekday, regardless of stroke severity, according to the results of a study published in the Nov. 2 issue of Neurology.

"Previous studies have found higher stroke case fatality in patients admitted to the hospital on weekends compared to weekdays, but the reasons for this association are not known," the authors wrote.

Moira K. Kapral, MD, of the University of Toronto, and colleagues analyzed five years worth of data from the Canadian Stroke Network on 20,657 patients with acute stroke from 11 stroke centers in Ontario to evaluate whether mortality between stroke patients admitted to the hospital on weekdays or weekends would differ.

Of the patient cohort, those with a mild stroke severity were less likely to be admitted to the hospital on weekends, but the numbers of those admitted to the hospital with moderate or severe stroke were similar for both weekend and weekday admissions.

Patients admitted on the weekend were more likely to be older, to have been transported by ambulance and experienced a shorter time from the onset of stroke symptoms.

Kapral and colleagues reported that seven days after stroke, patients admitted on weekends had an 8.1 percent risk of dying versus the 7 percent risk of dying for patients who were seen on weekdays. No differences were found when the researchers adjusted for age, gender, stroke severity or other medical conditions.

"Stroke is not the only condition in which lower survival rates have been linked for people admitted to hospitals on the weekends. The reason for the differences in rates could be due to hospital staffing, limited access to specialists and procedures done outside of regular hours," wrote Kapral. "More research needs to be done on why the rates are different so that stroke victims can have the best possible chance of surviving."

The study was funded by the Canadian Stroke Network.