Monday, April 6, 2020

Hospital beds

This is Joseph

This is a blog post from 2014 (so it was written long before the current era of covid-19). Note the shrinkage in hospital beds:
In 1990, according to OECD data, the OECD countries had on average 10% more beds per capita than Canada. By 2000, that had increased to 47% more beds.  By 2005, 71% more.  And by 2012, the OECD countries had 78% more hospital beds per capita than Canada.
The same thing is happening in the United States:
The fact is that between 1980 and today, 400,000 hospital beds have vanished from our system while Wall Street financed a bonanza of hospital mergers and acquisitions. Given population growth of 100 million over this period, this means that the number of hospital beds per 100,000 people in the US has fallen by more than half. In 1980 there was 595 hospital bed for every 100,000 people. Today there’s only 281 per 100,000.  
One of the tricky problems with covid-19 is the high level of hospitalization associated with it. The reduction in beds may well look like a short sighted way to decrease costs and increase profits in the scenario where there was any sort of infectious disease. In both Canada and the United States this episode should be a wake up call to do proper capacity planning for medical services.

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