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Too few ICU beds may up patient deaths

Reuters, March 5, 2012

Researchers focused on 10 hospitals in western France, where there's a known shortage of ICU beds. They found that of 1,332 patients referred to the hospitals' ICUs over three months, almost 15 percent were turned away (at least temporarily) because there were no open beds. Overall, 33 percent died within the next 60 days, versus 27 percent of patients admitted to the ICU immediately. The findings suggest that a shortage of ICU beds is leading to preventable deaths, the researchers report in the American Journal of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine.