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Tuesday
Dec112018

Could leaving the hospital near Christmas be more dangerous?

MJFelt/iStock(TORONTO) -- The holidays are a time that most people look forward to -- the festivities, the fun and a chance to see family. But new research from Toronto General Hospital shows that it may actually be a dangerous time for those discharged from the hospital.

Patients sent home from the hospital during the December holiday period are less likely to have a follow-up appointment, and have a higher risk of death and readmission within 30 days.

The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), a Canadian group that conducts studies that evaluate health care delivery and outcomes, analyzed over 200,000 adults and children discharged from hospitals during the two-week December holiday period in 2002-2016. Those discharged during the Christmas holiday period were found to have a 16 percent higher risk of death or readmission within the first seven days.

In addition, those discharged during the holiday were also 39 percent less likely to have a follow-up appointment in the first seven days.

Finally, it was found that per 100,000 people during this time, there were 26 more deaths, 188 excess re-hospitalizations, 483 extra visits to an emergency department and 2,999 fewer follow-ups.

The authors attribute these results to limited access to outpatient care, difficulty in booking appointments and reduced levels of staffing. This, in combination with holiday festivities that often lead to excessive stress, increased drinking and lack of sleep can destabilize chronic medical conditions.

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