Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Empty Beds

 There is an axiom in the hotel business that an empty bed is a revenue opportunity that is lost forever.  To have a successful hotel, you need guests in the beds.  It's a fairly simple concept.

Hospitals are the same.  Empty beds mean a lost revenue opportunity.  While that may seem crass and profit-driven, it's the truth.  As much as I admire physicians and nurses, along with all the support staff  that make a hospital run, it is simple economics that if your hospital is empty, you don't need all those doctors, nurses and support staff on the payroll.  Empty beds is a lost revenue opportunity.

During the current Covid pandemic, we have come to depend on Covid hospitalizations as a valuable metric of success.  As hospitalizations rise and fall, we measure success.  However, an article in The Atlantic suggests that this metric is not as reliable as we might like it to be.

Researchers have tried to get at similar questions before. For two separate studies published in May, doctors in California read through several hundred charts of pediatric patients, one by one, to figure out why, exactly, each COVID-positive child had been admitted to the hospital. Did they need treatment for COVID, or was there some other reason for admission, like cancer treatment or a psychiatric episode, and the COVID diagnosis was merely incidental? According to the researchers, 40 to 45 percent of the hospitalizations that they examined were for patients in the latter group.

So, a patient goes to the hospital for a routine colonoscopy, and during the intake, is found to be Covid positive.  That's good to know, but that patient suddenly becomes a Covid patient.  The patient is later admitted.  So, the question becomes: was the patient admitted for colon, or Covid?  That is a legitimate question.

Our big regional hospital here shows Covid hospitalizations every day, with a count of vaccinated and un-vaccinated.  They give no other breakdown on the numbers,and as a regional medical center, they are known to accept patients from other hospitals.  I've also noticed that their numbers tend to hover between 50-70 Covid patients.

I'm not pointing fingers here, and certainly not ascribing any nefarious intent.  I'm simply highlighting what other folks have noticed.

2 comments:

Drew458 said...

If this country supported outpatient early treatments like other countries do, then a lot less people would be in the hospitals for covid. If we supported preventative regimens fewer people would even need to be tested or see their primary doc. Barring that, if someone is admitted for covid but they're released in 4 days or less, then they weren't relly all that sick. Either way would give us more realistic hospitalization numbers, the really seriously sick cases, which is how most of us define "hospitalization". Yeah, it can seem like a fear mongering con. It may be, or they might just be doing everything backwards out of foolishness.

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