A recent study published in a British medical journal contends that heart attacks which occur outside of regular hospital hours could contribute to thousands of preventable deaths in the United States every year. Cardiovascular events are the leading cause of death worldwide, and a million Americans suffer heart attacks every year, while about 400,000 die from coronary heart disease in the U.S..

The researchers reviewed the data from 48 studies that looked at 1,896,859 patients. They found that patients who presented to hospitals during off hours and weekends had about a 5% higher risk of death that lasted up to 30 days after discharge than those who presented during regular business hours. They found that there was about a 15 minute delay in rendering treatment during off hours, which could increase mortality by as much as 10 to 15%, if you assume linearity between the delay in treatment and mortality. This could mean that as many as 6000 US deaths occur every year because of this delay in rendering treatment. Of course, the researchers were not able to completely rule out other factors associated with patient characteristics as an underlying cause, but they felt that the link between mortality and hospital off-hours was strong.

Unfortunately, no one has the ability to predict when they will require emergency cardiac care, or everyone would arrive at the hospital during regular business hours, when the A-Team was in place. Should you or a loved one require emergency cardiac care during non-business hours, you should be sensitive to any time delays you experience, and should bring your concerns to the immediate attention of the physician or nursing supervisor.  If you believe that a loved one has suffered serious or permanent harm as a result of an unreasonable delay in the rendering of treatment by a hospital, contact Stark & Stark for a free evaluation of your potential claim.