Lack of beds in children’s hospitals: “A catastrophic situation”

Status: 01.12.2022 08:17 a.m

German intensive care and emergency physicians are sounding the alarm: too many beds are missing in children’s hospitals. Almost every second hospital has to turn down emergency patients every day. The main reason for the deficit is a lack of staff.

German intensive care and emergency physicians complain about a dramatic lack of beds in children’s hospitals. “Out of 110 children’s hospitals, 43 facilities did not have a single bed available in the normal ward,” said the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) in Munich. There are only 83 free beds in general in pediatric children’s intensive care units throughout Germany – that is less than one free bed per location.

The association wrote to 130 children’s hospitals for the current survey. 110 houses had provided their data from the sample day November 24th, i.e. a week ago. “This is a catastrophic situation, there is no other way to describe it,” said Florian Hoffmann, DIVI Secretary General and Munich pediatric intensive care physician. Among other things, he calls for the immediate optimization of working conditions in the children’s hospitals and the establishment of specialized children’s intensive care transport systems. “We finally have to act now,” said the doctor.

RSV wave exacerbates the situation

According to DIVI, all children’s hospitals that participate in the nationwide “cloverleaf concept” for patient transfer were written to in the survey. Certain federal states work together on this. The RS virus, a currently rampant pathogen of respiratory infections, especially in infants and small children, is also causing problems for the clinics.

“The RSV wave continues to build up and makes treatment with respiratory support necessary for many children,” says Sebastian Brenner, DIVI Congress President and Head of Department at the University Children’s Hospital Dresden. “As of today, we can assume that there are not enough children’s intensive care beds for this treatment.”

Every second clinic had to turn children away

The hospitals participating in the survey had a total of 607 beds that could be set up, of which only 367 beds could be operated. In more than 70 percent of cases, the reason for the lack of beds is a lack of staff. With consequences for the patients: During the survey, every second clinic reported that in the past 24 hours they could not accept at least one child for pediatric intensive care after a request from the rescue service or emergency room. “This situation is getting worse from year to year and is carried out on the backs of critically ill children,” says Hoffmann.

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