For years, researchers have been investigating something called the "weekend effect," which appears to show that patients who are admitted to the hospital on weekends experience poorer outcomes than those that go in on weekdays. The phenomenon has been observed in various industrialized areas of the world, so it might occur in New York. Now, a new obstetrics study published in The BMJ adds support to the controversial claim.

Using records from the English National Health Service, researchers from the U.K.'s Imperial College London examined the health outcomes of more than 1 million deliveries and 1 million births between April 2010 and March 2012. They particularly scrutinized the rates of perinatal mortality, injuries during childbirth, infections and emergency readmissions. Their findings showed that expectant mothers and babies who were admitted on Saturday or Sunday fared worse than those who were admitted on a weekday. For example, the perinatal mortality rate jumped from 6.5 per 1,000 births on weekdays to 7.1 per 1,000 on weekends. Infections also increased from 8.2 per 1,000 births during the week to 8.7 per 1,000 over the weekend. Meanwhile, emergency readmissions went up to 12.3 per 1,000 births on weekends from 11.8 per 1,000 on weekdays.

The researchers said they did not find a correlation between labor department staffing levels and infant deaths or injuries. However, they did find a slight association between staffing levels and perineal tears. Previous studies that have examined the weekend effect on labor and delivery outcomes have generated conflicting results, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly why the phenomenon occurs.

A birth injury can cause long-term medical issues, including cerebral palsy and Erb's palsy. However, a medical malpractice claim could help parents recover medical expenses and other damages from a negligent doctor. An attorney could provide details on filing such a claim in New York.


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