New study shows
High occupancy rates in Swiss hospitals increase the risk of death
As hospital bed occupancy increases, so does the risk of death. This is shown by a new study by the University of Basel. Depending on the size of the hospital, the threshold above which things become critical differs significantly.
According to a new study, mortality increases from a certain occupancy of hospital beds. (archive image)
According to a new study, when hospital beds are full, mortality increases by two percent per day – sometimes significantly before the full bed capacity is reached. Small hospitals are particularly affected.
For the study, researchers from the University of Basel evaluated the data of almost 1.2 million patients from 102 Swiss hospitals, according to a press release from the university on Monday. This with the aim of investigating the connection between bed occupancy and the 14-day mortality rate in hospitals.
The size of the hospital is crucial
It became critical when a certain threshold of occupied beds was reached. Where this threshold lay differed from hospital to hospital. In the hospitals examined, this threshold was between 42.1 percent and 95.9 percent.
The decisive factor for this difference is the size of the hospital. Basically, the higher the average bed occupancy of a hospital, the higher the threshold. The critical occupancy rate was around 60 percent in small hospitals, while it was 90 percent in large hospitals. If the average utilization is low, there may be greater fluctuations.
The bottleneck is the staff
“For example, it can happen that a hospital has 120 beds on average and 200 beds are occupied on one day of the year – that’s enormous,” said study leader Michael Simon at the request of the Keystone-SDA news agency. These heavily fluctuating loads mean that the threshold is lower and is therefore reached more quickly.
The staff is the bottleneck, it said. The number of doctors and nursing staff remains relatively constant, no matter how many patients are in the hospital. In addition, when workload is high, certain treatments can no longer be carried out or can only be carried out with a delay.
According to Simon, the problem can be addressed by reducing fluctuations in utilization. He sees the solutions at the political level: “Bundling the clinics or closer cooperation between the clinics leads to fewer fluctuations and thus reduces the risk,” said Simon.