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Association between day of the week of elective surgery and postoperative mortality


Background — In prior studies, higher mortality was observed among patients who had elective surgery on a Friday rather than earlier in the week. We investigated whether mortality after elective surgery was associated with day of the week of surgery in a Canadian population and whether the association was influenced by surgeon experience and volume.

Methods — We conducted a population based retrospective cohort study in the province of Ontario, Canada. We included adults who underwent 1 of 12 elective daytime surgical procedures from Apr. 1, 2002, to Dec. 31, 2012. The primary outcome was 30-day mortality. We used generalized estimating equations to compare outcomes for surgeries performed on different days of the week, adjusting for patient and surgeon factors.

Results — A total of 402 899 procedures performed by 1691 surgeons met our inclusion criteria. The median length of hospital stay was 6 (interquartile range 5–8) days. Surgeon experience varied significantly by day of week (p < 0.001), with surgeons operating on Fridays having the least experience. Nearly all of the patients who had their procedure on a Friday had postoperative care on the weekend, as compared with 49.1% of those whose surgery was on a Monday (p < 0.001). We found no difference in the 30-day mortality between procedures performed on Fridays and those performed on Mondays (adjusted odds ratio 1.08, 95% confidence interval 0.97–1.21).

Interpretation — Although surgeon experience differed across days of the week, the risk of 30-day mortality after elective surgery was similar regardless of which day of the week the procedure took place.



Dubois L, Vogt K, Vinden C, Winick-Ng J, McClure JA, Roshanov PS, Bell CM, Garg AX; Surgical Investigators Group at ICES Western. CMAJ. 2017; 189(8):E303-9. Epub 2016 Oct 17.

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