Incorrect messages about free intensive care beds

Almost 8,000 intensive care beds are currently still recorded as available in Germany. But experts doubt the number

According to the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI), the information provided by the clinics on the number of usable intensive care beds is not always correct. Indications and samples showed that sometimes beds are reported as free for which no nursing staff is available, said DIVI President Uwe Janssens of the German Press Agency. The extent of the incorrect reports is unclear. Since the spring, hospitals have been obliged to report the number of usable intensive care beds to DIVI on a daily basis. The number of beds for which sufficient intensive care workers are available for care and treatment expressly counts.

Janssens wants to speak to Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) and several experts on how to proceed in the corona pandemic on Tuesday (12.30 p.m.) in Berlin. Representatives of the federally owned Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and corona test laboratories are also expected. At the start of the partial lockdown decided by the federal and state governments on Monday, Spahn had already made it clear that it was about a “national effort”. The aim is also to avoid overloading the hospitals.

Clinics currently in regular operation

At the moment, the clinics were still running normally, unlike the wave of infections in spring, said Janssens. However, some clinics apparently reported their number of intensive care beds as if they had already been taken out of regular operation. Interventions that can easily be carried out later would then be postponed - and more intensive care personnel, for example from anesthetics, would be available. "We don't have this condition at the moment."

The Greens called for rapid countermeasures against impending shortages in nursing staff. "Beds do not care for people - especially not in an intensive care unit," said Green politician Kordula Schulz-Asche of the dpa. It is high time to ensure that the personnel situation in intensive care units does not become the “Waterloo of fighting pandemics”. Efforts from the spring to build up an emergency reserve would have to be resumed. Delegation concepts are also necessary so that intensive care professionals can be supported by teams of experienced nursing professionals.

Number of free beds indicated rather too high

The German Foundation for Patient Protection had previously expressed doubts that the clinics actually only reported beds that could be occupied. “Demand and reality diverge,” said board member Eugen Brysch of the dpa. It is therefore to be feared that the clinics will report a noticeable number of beds as occupancy, for which in truth no nursing staff would be available.

The DIVI itself has no control function. Rather, the federal states would have to do their job to check the actual availability, demanded Brysch. Violations would have to be punished. He sees a possible reason for false reports from the clinics that empty beds could mean a financial advantage in negotiations and that their number is therefore rather too high. Until September, for example, there had been lump-sum payments for beds kept free, and this regulation could be reintroduced.

The number of corona patients in intensive care units is increasing

The number of Covid-19 cases treated in intensive care has almost tripled in the past two weeks from 851 patients (October 19) to 2243 patients (November 2), as the DIVI data show. The previous high was 2933 on April 18th. At that time, around 3,400 of the beds in the clinics were reported as vacant. For November 2, DIVI recorded almost 7,900 intensive care beds that could still be occupied.

A total of 560 379 people in Germany have been proven to have been infected with Sars-CoV-2 since the beginning of the Corona crisis, as the RKI reported early Tuesday morning (data status November 3rd, 00.00 a.m.). Most recently, the health authorities in Germany reported 15,352 new corona infections to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) within one day. With 19 059 new infections, a new high was reached on Saturday since the start of the corona pandemic in Germany.