This site is intended for health professionals only

Risk of death ‘82% higher for a weekend operation than a Monday procedure’

People who have surgery towards the end of the week are more likely to die that those who have procedures earlier on, UK researchers have found.

A BMJ report into non-emergency operations in England found that people having operations on a weekend were 82% more likely to die than if they had operations on a Monday, although only a minority of planned operations take place on weekends.

The study found that people having their operation on a Friday 44% were more likely to die than those who have a procedure on a Monday. The researchers found that the lowest risk for surgery was if it was carried out on Monday, which increased with each subsequent day, with the highest risk at the weekend.

Lead author Dr Paul Aylin, a clinical reader in epidemiology and public health and the assistant director of the Dr Foster Unit at Imperial College London, concluded: ‘The study suggests a higher risk of death for patients who have elective surgical procedures carried out later in the working week and at the weekend.’

His team of Imperial College London researchers gathered data on all non-emergency surgery in the NHS in England from 2008-09 to 2010-11.

Looking at more than 4 million operations, they found 27,582  deaths within 30 days of surgery, putting the overall average risk of death at 0.67%.