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INTENSIVE CARE UNITS: 25 ICU beds per 100,000 population

Remember Roemer’s Law?  It’s been around for decades — a built hospital bed is a filled hospital bed.  Or, as Hollywood would have it — if you build it, they will come.  [For an interesting commentary on Roemer’s Law, see Greg Scandlen’s “Myth Busters” blog post here: http://healthblog.ncpa.org/myth-busters-1-roemer%E2%80%99s-law/ ].

In this current JAMA article, published online before coming out in the print magazine, the authors propose that the same sort of dynamic is going on with special care unit beds.  That is, if there are a lot of ICU beds available, physicians are more likely to place patients in these costly settings, but that those patients might not be the target ICU population.  They develop a graphic with quadrants to identify the target ICU population as people who are very seriously ill yet likely to survive.

The authors quote a ratio from an earlier published article of 25 ICU beds / 100,000 population in the United States, compared with 5 / 100,000 in the United Kingdom.  They suggest that one aspect of a health care cost containment strategy would be to limit or reduce ICU bed supply.

Source: Gooch, R.A., and Kahn, J.M.  ICU bed supply, utilization, and health care spending: an example of demand elasticity.  JAMA, Jan. 9, 2014.  Click here for full text: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleID=1813219&utm_source=Silverchair%20Information%20Systems&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=JAMA%3AOnlineFirst01%2F09%2F2014     Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050 rc@aha.org