More can be done to protect hospital patients after surgery, according to a study into mortality rates.
The new research shows that the risk of death following surgery is highest on weekends, in the afternoon and throughout February.
The study, which was presented at this year’s Euroanaesthesia, is based on research is by Dr Felix Kork and Professor Claudia Spies, from Charité - University Medicine Berlin in Germany. The scientists looked at data from 218,758 patients who underwent surgery between 2006 and 2011 at the two University Hospital Campuses of Charité Tertiary Care University Center, Berlin.
Analysis of the figures show day-night, weekly and seasonal variabilities - something that has been shown in previous studies of general hospital mortality, but never before concerning patients after surgery.
It found that afternoon surgery had a 21% increased risk of death compared with surgery conducted at other times of day, while there was a 22% increased risk of death following surgery at the weekend compared with weekdays.
The study also found that February had a 16% increased risk of death compared with surgery in all other months.
The authors of the study, who will now carry out further research into the causes of the variations, said there could be a number of reasons why the standard of care varied at different times. These include the possibility that the patients treated in the afternoon and on the weekends were more severely ill.
However, they said the study did demonstrate that much more could be done to protect patients following surgery.