Indeed, a study from a University of California researcher found there is a 20% increased likelihood of a hospital-acquired complication when a patient is admitted on a weekend versus a weekday. Previous studies have also linked elevated mortality to weekends and holidays.
As a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, you should educate your attorney-client (plaintiff or defense) on the issue of how the patient’s day of admission could have influenced the quality of care received. Weekends are often short-staffed and critical diagnostic testing may be put off until the following Monday (or even the first work day after a 3-day holiday weekend). Skeletal crews are common for holidays too.
As a plaintiff or defense legal nurse consultant you’ll want to assess the plaintiff’s date of admission to establish whether short-staffing contributed to a preventable complication. If you’re the plaintiff Certified Legal Nurse Consultant you’ll want to help the attorney-client draft interrogatories and requests for production regarding staffing and acuity levels. Also consider holidays, severe weather conditions, nurse absenteeism and use of agency nurses.
The “weekend effect” is real and a factor you’ll want to consider as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant when evaluating all medical malpractice cases. After all, short staffing is a much more compelling deviation from the standards of care than an over-worked, underpaid RN’s isolated mistake.
I’m Just Sayin’
P.S. Comment and share your thoughts on why so much medical harm happens in hospitals on weekends and holidays.