Children And Emergency Surgeries Over the Weekend

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Posted on Jul 08, 2014

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There are a lot of things that you have been told you shouldn't do -- go to the auto shop on Monday after the mechanics have been off for two days or be the first to use brand new software (Apple users have been there). 

Now according to recent studies done at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, parents do not want their child to have any urgent surgeries done over the weekend. Even if they are relatively uncomplicated procedures like appendectomies, hernia repairs, or surgery to repair a bone fracture.

In research published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery, the outcome of weekend surgeries for those and others conditions are more likely to end in death or complications and require a blood transfusion.

Dr. Seth Goldstein, quoted in the Washington Post "those of us who spend a lot of time in the operating room know that nights and weekends are a difficult beast". Dr. Goldstein and his colleagues reviewed 327,000 weekday pediatric surgeries performed during the week against 112,000 performed on the weekend over a 22 year period and found that the weekend surgeries were 40% were more likely to result in complications-- accidental lacerations or punctures, infections, hemorrhages or wounds that reopen or do not heal properly.

While the study does not say specifically why complications are higher on the weekend, there are some theories. According to the Washington Post article, on the weekend hospitals have fewer staffers, usually the teams are comprised of people who are not familiar with each other, and   ancillary services are not as readily available. A big factor is that some of the surgeons that are on duty may not specialize in pediatric surgery.

This study is alarming. Children are going to be children and are not going to stop just because the hospital has system issues and may not be appropriately staffed on the weekend for children. Whether these complications happen on the weekend or not, not following patient safety rules is still medical malpractice. Not having the appropriate staff for children who may need emergency surgeries or procedures on the weekend is preventable and in turn, so are the complications that would occur.

We have written a guide about ways a patient can recognize, stop and avoid medical malpractice called 7 Symptoms of Medical Malpractice: How Every Patient Can Recognize, Stop and Avoid Medical MistakesOne of the issues we discuss is the issue of inexperience in physicians, nurses and technicians or doctors not consulting the right specialists. Pick up a copy either by emailing ([email protected]) us or giving us a call at (202) 393-3200. And if you find yourself in one of these situations, contact us immediately to see if we can help you. 

Knowing that this occurs is not ok, hospitals now need to take this information and do something about it. For more information on this story please go to

Frank R. Kearney, Attorney-at-Law
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