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8 Reasons Why Hospitals Should Reduce Bed Volume

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, October 6, 2011

Just this week for example, we see a report that many elective percutaneous coronary revascularization patients can be safely discharged six hours after their procedure, rather than kept in a hospital bed overnight. This could free at least 35,000 or more hospital beds days each year.

Even bariatric surgery, which just a few years ago required a hospital stay of a week or more, is now being done laparoscopically.  Adjustable gastric band procedures, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in February, can sometimes be done on an outpatient basis.

5. Emergency departments will become even more creative in managing patients who don't need admission, using urgent care clinics and observation alternatives.

6. In some states the number of hospital beds, even with hospital closures, is on the increase. In California, for example, the number of hospital beds has had a net growth of 5% between 2005 and 2010, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. And, many hospitals that are rebuilding to meet the state's strict safety requirements are adding licensed beds, not reducing them, as they upgrade from double-bed rooms to single-bed rooms, and expand in an effort to dominate a market.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "What about all the normal growth in population and all the aging baby boomers who will soon need care? What about the 32 million uninsured Americans who will soon have coverage?" 

Please see reasons 7 and 8.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

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3 comments on "8 Reasons Why Hospitals Should Reduce Bed Volume"


OR MD MBA (10/8/2011 at 9:04 AM)
So lets take a routine patient. Grandma's not acting right, ends up being a mild UTI. Probably could go home by many standards but family is insistent. She was just in 3 wks ago with a generalized weakness/UTI so in reality it's a social admission b/c family can't deal with her right now. So, do I readmit her and get dinged or do I refuse the admission and piss off the family and get low satisfaction scores under HCAHPS. Oh, and while I'm spending all this time explaining why she can't be admitted, the waiting room is backing up increasing my wait times which is a new P4P CMS metric. Or better yet, I cave in and re-admit her and because there's less beds, she is now a hold in my ER. Can't wait for your rose colored healthcare world.

Lewis Allen (10/7/2011 at 9:26 PM)
I've performed laboratory work for a few decades now and believe you've missed the mark regarding hospitals and census counts. Hospitals are already closing beds, rooms and entire wings. Insurance providers have been forcing these closures for years as they decrease reimbursement for hospital services, jack up rates and/or deny coverage to patients, while ensuring they themselves receive 100 cents on the dollar as payment (ala Blue Cross/Blue Shield). Insurance providers have become the "attack dogs" for Socialist government policy, whose goal is to consolidate medical services into few, huge, "Centers of Excellence", where they can pay as little as possible for such "excellence". I assure you that patients are ill-served by having to travel 3 or 4 hours to a "center of excellence" for regular medical care. And let's not forget intense, Lawyer Greed, that has crippled physicians abilities to pay enormous premiums to simply "go to work". Physicians are forced to pass costs along or be forced into retirement. Fewer practicing physicians means worsening and unhealthy outcomes for needy patients.

JRG MD MBA (10/6/2011 at 7:56 PM)
Most of your analysis sounds like either wish fulfillment or you have been smoking something. Have you ever spent as much as a day providing any sort fo medical care?