Doctors Need to Work Weekends

Peter Orszag: No one wants to work Saturdays, but we need them to
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2010 11:21 AM CDT
In this May 27, 2010 photo, Dr. Rebecca Parker walks through Chicago's Advocate Trinity Hospital's emergency room during visits to multiple patients.   (AP)

(Newser) – If we're serious about raising the quality of health care while lowering its cost, doctors need to do two things: The first is suck it up and work weekends, writes Peter Orszag. There are plenty of compelling reasons: People who are hospitalized on Saturdays and Sundays don't fare so well, for one. A 2007 study found that for every 1,000 heart-attack sufferers admitted on the weekend, 9 to 10 more died versus weekday admissions. Our hospitals sit idle 25% of the time, meaning we're not using our expensive equipment and space fully.

Plus, how convenient would it be to be able to schedule elective surgery for a Saturday morning? But that's just one side of the coin, writes Orszag for the New York Times. The second thing is that they have to consent to quality management. "As the saying goes, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it—or improve it." New York University Langone Medical Center is doing both of these things, offering MRIs and scheduled C-sections on weekends, and digging into the data to uncover why so few eligible patients are discharged before noon. "If it succeeds, it will help point the way to the health care system of the future," Orszag writes.

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