According to a new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, pediatric patients with newly diagnosed leukemia who were admitted to the hospital on the weekend had a longer length of stay, a small delay in initiating chemotherapy, and a greater risk for respiratory failure; however, these patients did not have an increased risk for death.
Researchers analyzed data from the Pediatric Health Information System database from 1999 to 2011 and identified 10,720 pediatric patients with newly diagnosed acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Of those, 16.7% were admitted to the hospital on the weekend. Patients admitted on the weekend had a 1.4-day longer length of stay, a 0.36-day longer time to chemotherapy initiation, and an increased risk for respiratory failure.
Researchers suggest that hospitals should consider the need to admit pediatric patients with leukemia and the clinical resources available on the weekend, and determine whether available resources are allocated to those patients who require comprehensive care. A longer length of stay and an increased risk for respiratory failure increase the cost of admission and may increase the risk for readmission.
Weekend admission to the hospital for pediatric patients newly diagnosed with leukemia was associated with a longer length of stay, slightly longer wait to start chemotherapy and higher risk for respiratory failure but weekend admissions were not linked to an increased risk for death.
Leukemia is a common childhood cancer that accounts for about 30 percent of all pediatric cancer diagnoses. Previous research has indicated an increased risk of death in adults with leukemia whose first admission was on a weekend. But there has been little investigation of weekend admissions for pediatric leukemia patients.