Capacity dashboard: 52 statistics on U.S. hospital capacity

52 critical statistics on the state of hospital capacity.

Recent major developments in hospital incentives and regulation have produced significant changes in hospital capacity trends. After several years of decline, inpatient volumes and emergency department admissions are on the rise, in part due to the increase in the insured population and Medicaid expansion in certain states. In some cases, providers are reporting misallocation of resources, overwork and potential patient safety hazards resulting from capacity management issues.

Here are 52 statistics on the status quo of various aspects of hospital capacity as published on the Becker's Hospital Review capacity management channel in 2014.


ED volumes

ED admissions

Hospitals reporting Q2 volume increase from Q1: 68 percent 1

Hospitals reporting overall increase: 34 percent 1

Hospitals reporting increase between 1 percent and 5 percent: 42 percent 1

Of Medicaid expansion states, hospitals reporting an increase in Q2: 42 percent 1

Of non-Medicaid expansion states, hospitals reporting an increase in Q2: 29 percent 1


ED physician perception

Percentage of physicians who report ED volume since January 1, 2014, has:

Increased: 46 percent 3

Remained the same: 27 percent 3

Decreased: 23 percent 3

Not sure: 4 percent 3

Percentage of physicians who report their ED is prepared for significant volume increases:

No: 77 percent 3

Not sure: 14 percent 3

Yes: 10 percent 3


Percentage of ED physicians reporting an increase in ED resources used to transfer/admit psychiatric patients: 84 percent

Of those, percentage of ED physicians reporting boarding psychiatric patients in the ED has led to bed shortages, distracted staff or violent behavior from the psychiatric patients: 91 percent

ED population

National ED visit rate: 421 per 1,000 population 4

Percentage of ED admissions at the same hospital at which patients had checked in: 16.67 percent

Female-to-male visit ratio: 120 percent

Visits related to drug abuse or misuse (2011): 2.5 million 5


Super-users (visit an ED 10 or more times per year)

Super-users (10 or more ED visits per year) addicted to a substance: 77 percent 5

Super-users addicted to narcotics: 47 percent 5

Super-users addicted to illicit" drugs: 44 percent 5

Super-users addicted to alcohol: 35 percent 5


Patient-reported reasons for visiting the ED (Medicaid)

Healthcare service delivery issues (e.g. lack of primary care access): 56 percent 9

"Unavoidable" reasons: 42 percent 9

Behavioral issues: 2 percent 9

Of visits due to service delivery issues, visits occurring on weekends or during off-hours: 72 percent 9

Of visits due to service delivery issues, visits occurring due to lack of timely PCP appointments available: 28 percent 9


Inpatient volumes

All admissions (2013): 2.6 percent increase from 2008 10

Scheduled inpatient admissions (2013): 10.5 percent increase from 2008 10

Admissions from the ED (2013): 14.6 percent decrease from 2008 10

Average hospital inpatient volume increase from Q1 to Q2 2014: 0.4 percent 1


Hospitals anticipating stable or growing inpatient volumes in Q3 2014: 70 percent 1

Hospitals reporting that the PPACA has not yet affected volume trends: 54 percent 1

Percentage of ED-hospital admissions through the same ED to which a patient originally checked in: 16.67 percent 4


Inpatient demand projection, 2050: 67 percent increase (based on 2011 age-specific hospitalization rates) 6


Bed capacity

National average hospital bed occupancy rate (2012): 61 percent

Number of beds available (per 1,000 people, 2012) 2.6 beds

Occupancy rate for urban hospitals (2012): 64 percent

Occupancy rate for rural hospitals (2012): 43 percent


Physician outsourcing

Hospitals anticipating outsourcing at least some physician specialties: 54 percent (greater than 250 beds) 1

Of those anticipated in outsourcing at least some physician specialties, preferred method:

Pure-play provider: 72 percent 1

Prefer bundled service structure: 17 percent 1

Possibly prefer bundled service structure: 11 percent 1


Nursing workforce

Predicted RN workforce peak: 2.2 million (2012) 2

Actual number of nurses in 2012: 2.7 million 2

Number of nurses delaying retirement (2012): 136,000 2

Nurses still working at age 62 (cohort starts age 50): 74 percent 2

Nurses still working at age 69 (cohort starts age 50): 24 percent 2


Nursing attitudes:

Percentage of nurses who agree with the following statements:

I manage patient throughput from admission to discharge: 60 percent 7

Limited nurse coverage causes communication problems: 48 percent 7

Limited nurse coverage causes documentation problems: 43 percent 7

Limited nurse coverage causes fatigue from overwork: 42 percent 7

My hospital has implemented recent staffing increases: 15 percent 7



1 Jeffries survey of executives from 50 hospitals across the country.

2 RAND Corp study published in Health Affairs.

3 American College of Emergency Physicians Survey of 1,900 members on ED volume and preparedness, March 2014.

4 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Statistical Brief #174 (2011)

5 Henry Ford Hospital study, 2014.

6 Journal of Hospital Medicine, 2014.

7 Jackson Healthcare survey of nurses on staffing issues

8 Medicare Payment Advisory Commission Report

9 American Journal of Quality Medicine study on patient-reported ED use.

10 IMS Institute for Health Informatics

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