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Restricted weekend service inappropriately delays discharge after acute myocardial infarction
  1. A M Varnava1,
  2. J E C Sedgwick2,
  3. A Deaner3,
  4. K Ranjadayalan4,
  5. A D Timmis1
  1. 1Department of Cardiology, London Chest Hospital, Bonner Road, London E2, UK
  2. 2Department of Public Health Sciences, Guy's, King's and St Thomas' School of Medicine, London SE1, UK
  3. 3Department of Cardiology, King George's Hospital, Ilford, Essex, UK
  4. 4Department of Cardiology, Newham General Hospital, Glen Road, London E13, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr A Varnava, London Chest Hospital, Bonner Road, London E2 9JX, UK;


Background: Early discharge after myocardial infarction is safe and feasible. Factors that delay discharge need to be identified in order to improve care and reduce bed occupancy.

Objective: To investigate the potential of the restricted weekend service that operates in most hospitals to delay patient discharge.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Subjects and setting: 2541 consecutive patients with acute myocardial infarction admitted to the coronary care unit of three local district hospitals over a 12 year period.

Results: Clinical factors affecting the duration of stay were age, sex, and severity of infarction. Thus older patients and women stayed significantly longer, as did patients with enzymatically large infarcts. Day of week also had an important influence on duration of stay. Discharge occurred most often on a Friday (p = 0.006) and least often over the weekend (p = 0.0001). Patients were preferentially discharged on a Friday if the length of stay was more than 72 hours. Thus patients admitted on a Sunday or Monday were usually discharged the following Friday, corresponding to a median duration of stay of five or four days, respectively. For patients admitted on Tuesday to Saturday, weekend discharge was avoided and the median duration of stay was six to eight days.

Conclusions: For patients with acute myocardial infarction, discharge decisions were influenced appropriately by clinical indicators of risk, but inappropriately by the day of the week. Thus weekend discharge was generally avoided, leading to variations in length of stay that were largely determined by the day of the week on which admission occurred rather than clinical need.

  • myocardial infarction
  • hospital admission
  • weekend service

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