Fewer deaths on Sundays

28/02/2006 14:00

On Sundays the number of deaths appears to be lower than on weekdays. The low Sunday mortality rate is affected by the fact that fewer people die in hospital on Sundays. The number of people who die at home on Sundays is also lower than on weekdays. Mortality in residential homes for the elderly and nursing homes on Sundays hardly varies from the average on weekdays.

Sunday mortality

Sunday mortality

Sunday mortality down since the 1950s

In the period 2000–2005, on average 366 people died on Sundays, whereas 380 people died on an average day. Most people die on Fridays, when the number of deaths is 9 above average.
Since the 1950s, the share of Sunday deaths has dropped from 14.1 to 13.7 percent. The flood which swept the Netherlands on Sunday 1 February 1953 was a tragic exception with a death toll of 1,835.

More men die in hospital

In the past five years, approximately one third of all deaths occurred in hospitals. Half of the low mortality rate on Sundays can be attributed to a low hospital mortality rate on Sundays. Risky operations are generally not performed on Sundays. Only 13.4 percent of hospital deaths in 2003 and 2004 occurred on Sundays. Most deaths in hospital occur on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The hospital mortality rate for men is 16 percent higher than for women. On the other hand, twice as many women as men die in residential homes for the elderly and nursing homes.

In-hospital mortality, by day of the week

In-hospital mortality, by day of the week

Sunday mortality low among people dying at home

Mortality in and around the house – approximately one third of total mortality – is also significantly lower on Sundays, compared to weekdays. This is partly because life-ending treatments are usually administered at home and rarely on Sundays. If life-ending treatments are left out of account, discrepancies in daily mortality in and around the house would only be small. Life-ending treatments only play a part in just over 1 percent of total mortality, but the share on Sundays is very small (just under 4 percent).

Life-ending treatments

Life-ending treatments

Most young people die on Saturdays

The lower mortality rate on Sundays does not apply to young people. Most of them die in and around weekends, with a peak on Saturdays. One third of people in their teens (aged 10-19) and twenties (aged 20-29) die as a result of fatal road accidents.

Daily mortality among people in their teens and twenties

Daily mortality among people in their teens and twenties

Carel Harmsen and Joop Garssen