If you’re having a heart attack on a Saturday, driving to your nearest hospital might not save your life.
A new article in the New England Journal of Medicine this week shows that people who have heart attacks on weekends are more likely to die than those who suffer the attacks on weekdays.
Because not all hospitals are equipped with the right staff at all times who are equipped to open up your chest and perform an emergency coronary angioplasty. In fact, the Journal’s data of heart attack patients over 16 years in 38 New Jersey hospitals found that weekend patients were 25% as likely to have a life-saving invasive procedure as a weekday patient.
The health care system’s patchwork of public and private hospitals, with little planning and coordination, is one of the reasons for this problem.
A better planned and coordinated system (one of the suggestions Health Access makes in this fact sheet) — where everyone knows where the trauma specialists and coronary specialists are — could save money and lives.