Linda Green

Strategies for Cutting Hospital Beds: The Impact on Patient Service

Coauthor(s): Vien Nguyen.


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Objective. To develop insights on the impact of size, average length of stay, variability, and organization of clinical services on the relationship between occupancy rates and delays for beds. Data Sources. The primary data source was Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Secondary data were obtained from the United Hospital Fund of New York reflecting data from about 150 hospitals. Study Design. Data from Beth Israel Deaconess on discharges and length of stay were analyzed and fit into appropriate queueing models to generate tables and graphs illustrating the relationship between the variables mentioned above and the relationship between occupancy levels and delays. In addition, specific issues of current concern to hospital administrators were analyzed, including the impact of consolidation of clinical services and utilizing hospital beds uniformly across seven days a week rather than five. Principal Findings. Using target occupancy levels as the primary determinant of bed capacity is inadequate and may led to excessive delays for beds. Also, attempts to reduce hospital beds by consolidation of different clinical services into single nursing units may be counterproductive. Conclusions. More sophisticated methodologies are needed to support decisions that involve bed capacity and organization in order to understand the impact on patient service.

Source: Health Services Research
Volume: 36
Number: 2
Pages: 421-42
Date: 6 2001