The effect of superstition on the day of discharge from maternity units in Northern Ireland: "a Saturday flit is a short sit".

Research paper by D D O'Reilly, M M Stevenson

Indexed on: 30 Oct '04Published on: 30 Oct '04Published in: Journal of obstetrics and gynaecology : the journal of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology


The impetus for evidence-based practice arose from the science of maternity and childcare. Yet this has to coexist with patient preferences which are often based on a belief system far removed from science. This paper shows how a superstition, which suggests that moving on a Saturday is unlucky, affects a large proportion of discharges from maternity units in Northern Ireland. This is a descriptive study of the 77 018 patients admitted to maternity units in Northern Ireland between 1994/95 and 1996/97. Overall 3819 (35.7%) fewer patients than expected were discharged on Saturday and 2445 (23.2%) and 1834 (17.4%) more than expected were discharged on Friday and Sunday respectively. This means that at least 8097 patients were probably affected by the superstition. In an evidence-based world patient preferences are still evident.