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British study reveals obstetrics weekend effect

Oregon residents may have heard that patients undergoing certain types of medical procedure on a Saturday or Sunday are more likely to develop complications or have a poor outcome than those who are treated during the regular workweek. This has been labelled the weekend effect, and a study in a British medical journal indicates that giving birth on the weekend may also be more dangerous.

Researchers from London's Imperial College scrutinized the medical records of more than 1.3 million deliveries in British hospitals between 2010 and 2012, and they found that perinatal mortality was almost 10 percent higher when the birth occurred on a Saturday or Sunday. Perinatal mortality is the number of stillbirths and deaths during the first week of a child's life. Researchers also noticed spikes in the number of infections, emergency readmissions and neonatal injuries among babies born at the weekend.

The research team was quick to point out that the study was observational in nature and was designed to identify trends rather than reveal possible causes. However, they did say that reduced weekend staffing levels did not appear to be a contributor. The researchers also stressed that the data had been filtered to account for factors including the age, ethnic background and socioeconomic status of the mothers.

While babies may recover from certain birth injuries relatively quickly, others can impact a child for life. When these injuries are caused by mistakes made by doctors or negligence on the part of medical facilities, parents may choose to pursue civil remedies. Attorneys with experience in this area may file a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of parents when physicians do not provide care of an acceptable standard or hospitals put the safety of patients in jeopardy due to reckless actions such as not checking the credentials of their employees.

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