Weekend admissions may be associated with poorer recording of long-term comorbidities

A prospective study of emergency admissions using administrative data

Funded by

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16 November 2018

Published journal: BMC Health Services Research



Many studies have investigated the presence of a ‘weekend effect’ in mortality following hospital admission, and these frequently use diagnostic codes from administrative data for information on comorbidities for risk adjustment. However, it is possible that coding practice differs between week and weekend. We assess patients with a confirmed history of certain long-term health conditions and investigate how well these are recorded in subsequent week and weekend admissions.


We selected six long-term conditions that are commonly assessed when risk-adjusting mortality rates, via the Charlson and Elixhauser indices. Using Hospital Episode Statistics data from England for the period April 2009 to March 2011, we identified patients with the condition recorded at least twice, on separate emergency admissions. Then we assessed how often each condition was recorded on subsequent emergency admissions between April 2011 and March 2013. We then compared coding between week and weekend admissions using the Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test, stratifying by hospital.


We studied 111,457 patients with chronic pulmonary disease, 106,432 with diabetes, 36,447 with congestive heart failure, 30,996 with dementia, 7808 with hemiplegia or paraplegia and 5877 with metastatic cancer. Across the entire week, between April 2011 and March 2013, coding completeness ranged from 89% for diabetes to 43% for hemiplegia/paraplegia. Compared with weekday admissions, congestive heart failure was less likely to be recorded as a secondary diagnosis at the weekend (odds ratio 0.92, 95% CI, 0.88 to 0.97), with smaller but statistically significant differences also detected for chronic pulmonary disease (odds ratio 0.96, 95% CI, 0.93 to 0.99) and diabetes (odds ratio 0.95, 95% CI 0.91 to 0.99). There was no statistically significant difference in recording between week and weekend admissions for dementia (odds ratio 1.04, 95% CI 0.97 to 1.11), hemiplegia/paraplegia (odds ratio 0.99, 95% CI 0.89 to 1.10) or metastatic cancer (odds ratio 1.04, 95% CI 0.90 to 1.20).


Long-term conditions are often not recorded on administrative data and the lack of recording may be worse for weekend admissions. Studies of the weekend effect that rely on administrative data might have underestimated the health burden of patients, particularly if admitted at the weekend.


BMC Health Services Research201818:863 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-018-3668-7 

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