Hospital patients discharged 'quicker and sicker' over Christmas

The holiday period carries higher risks of death or readmission, researchers say

Patients being sent home from hospital around Christmas time are more likely to have bad outcomes compared with those discharged at other times, a Canadian study suggests.

Researchers poring through data from Ontario hospitals have found that patients discharged during the Christmas season are more likely to die or be readmitted in the following 30 days compared with patients discharged in late November or late January.

The new findings, published in the BMJ, echo results of research on 'the weekend effect', in which patients admitted to hospital on weekends are more likely to die than patients admitted on weekdays.

Lead author Dr Lauren Lapointe-Shaw and her colleagues looked at data collected between 2002 and 2016 on more than 217,000 adults discharged during two weeks, which included Christmas and New Year's Day.

They also studied some 453,000 patients discharged during