Surge Capacity: Analysis of Census Fluctuations to Estimate the Number of Intensive Care Unit Beds Needed
Version of Record online: 15 JUL 2014
© Health Research and Educational Trust
Health Services Research
Volume 50, Issue 1, pages 237–252, February 2015
How to Cite
Olafson, K., Ramsey, C., Yogendran, M., Fransoo, R., Chrusch, C., Forget, E. and Garland, A. (2015), Surge Capacity: Analysis of Census Fluctuations to Estimate the Number of Intensive Care Unit Beds Needed. Health Services Research, 50: 237–252. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.12209
- Issue online: 29 JAN 2015
- Version of Record online: 15 JUL 2014
- Manitoba Health database
- Critical care;
- bed occupancy;
- resource allocation
To compare methods of characterizing intensive care unit (ICU) bed use and estimate the number of beds needed.
Three geographic regions in the Canadian province of Manitoba.
Retrospective analysis of population-based data from April 1, 2000, to March 31, 2007.
We compared three methods to estimate ICU bed requirements. Method 1 analyzed yearly patient-days. Methods 2 and 3 analyzed day-to-day fluctuations in patient census; these differed by whether each hospital needed to independently fulfill its own demand or this resource was shared across hospitals.
Three main findings were as follows: (1) estimates based on yearly average usage generally underestimated the number of beds needed compared to analysis of fluctuations in census, especially in the smaller regions where underestimation ranged 25–58 percent; (2) 4–29 percent fewer beds were needed if it was acceptable for demand to exceed supply 18 days/year, versus 4 days/year; and (3) 13–36 percent fewer beds were needed if hospitals within a region could effectively share ICU beds.
Compared to using yearly averages, analyzing day-to-day fluctuations in patient census gives a more accurate picture of ICU bed use. Failing to provide adequate “surge capacity” can lead to demand that frequently and severely exceeds supply.