Tuesday is luckiest day for patients facing knife
Published 13/11/2010 | 05:00
PATIENTS looking to get home early after surgery should aim to have their operations on a Tuesday.
Hospitals are less stressed on Tuesdays and patients have a few days to recover, reducing their chances of spending the weekend confined to a ward.
However, patients admitted on a Friday are not so lucky, a conference was told yesterday.
They can end up staying for 25pc longer than normal, as hospitals wind down for the weekend.
The patient lottery was revealed at a conference yesterday by the Royal College of Surgeons' associate director of surgical affairs, Kieran Ryan, who referred to studies into why some patients spend longer in hospital than others.
The conference also heard how hospitals were now under growing pressure to get patients home faster to free up beds.
Mr Ryan told the conference that although the average length of stay has come down to 6.2 days here, many patients are still spending too long in hospital.
Mr Ryan said the biggest reason why patients are delayed going home is because of post-surgery complications.
He said doctors needed to reduce this by putting more emphasis on cutting the chances of infection or preventing blood loss.
More patients are now being admitted on the morning of their surgery. Some years ago, they might have been lying in hospitals for days in advance.
Prof John O'Byrne, an orthopaedic surgeon in Cappagh Hospital in Dublin, said it had succeeded in saving €203,000 so far this year, mostly by admitting more patients on the morning of their operation.
If the hospital managed to increase this to 80pc of patients, it could save €745,000 from its budget of €30m, Prof O'Byrne added.
"Patients are accepting of this and around 40pc of our patients come from outside Dublin.
"We have seen people from Donegal stay overnight in Dublin and show up at the hospital on the morning of their operation," he said.
However, doctors attending the Millin meeting, held in memory of an outstanding surgeon, Terence Millin, warned that efforts to streamline the care of surgical patients were in danger of being undermined because of a lack of anaesthetists.
President of the College of Anaesthetists, Dr Jeanne Moriarty, said a reduction in posts that are recognised for training credits has led to a fall in anaesthetists.
This meant that hospitals have to prioritise patients in need of emergency surgery, with the result that those on waiting lists can suffer due to the shortage of these specialists.
There are growing fears that the shortage will worsen after January, when the current crop of junior doctors ends a six-month training stint and begins another.
"We are talking about over 100 posts unfilled around the country.
"We are in negotiations with the Health Service Executive to try to address this," Dr Moriarty said.