Saturday superstition keeps patients in hospital beds


A STUDY has shown that more than one in 10 people would refuse to leave hospital on a Saturday and 40 per cent of doctors agree to postpone discharges - and it's all based on superstition.

"Saturday Flit, Short Sit" is a phrase recognised by 58 per cent of Irish patients according to the study by a group at Mercer's Institute for Research on Ageing, St James's Hospital, Dublin.

"The superstition implies that leaving hospital on a Saturday is bad luck and will mean early readmission to hospital," explained Dr Elizabeth Keane of the Institute for Research on Ageing. She said 13.7 per cent of all patients interviewed would "refuse point blank to go home on a Saturday and 40 per cent of doctors would allow postponement of discharge because of the patient's superstition."

The hospital stay would be lengthened by at least one day, the study showed. "This must have a profound effect on the economics and the overall management of the health services," said Dr Keane.

She said the saying is well known to medical and paramedical staff following attempts to discharge a patient on a Saturday.

"Colleagues have reported that this is not only commonplace in Dublin, but also in rural Ireland and Scotland. We wondered whether superstition had a strong enough influence to actually lengthen the duration of these patients' hospital stay and thus be a factor in the overall economics of the health service," said Dr Keane in the Irish Medical Journal.

The study involved more than 200 people including maternity patients, elderly patients and medical staff.