Study links higher ICU bed occupancy to more COVID-19 deaths

The number of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in a state is strongly linked to mortality, a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found. 

Researchers analyzed data from 23 states that reported daily hospitalization data to the University of Minnesota COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project between March 20 and June 4.

COVID-19 patients occupied 19.6 percent of all intensive care unit beds and 5.5 percent of non-ICU beds relative to state capacity during the study period. 

Researchers found a 1 percentage percent increase in ICU bed use (17 ICU beds, on average) was linked to 2.84 more COVID-19 deaths in the following seven days. A 1 percentage point increase in non-ICU bed use (130 beds, on average) was linked to 17.84 more deaths.

These results remained constant across numerous models with alternate specifications. ICU bed use also had a stronger association to mortality than non-ICU bed use. 

"These estimates provide a better understanding of the projections of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., especially when states are monitoring economic activities, and provide important practice insights for hospitals in terms of assessment of hospital bed and ICU bed capacity and preparedness," lead author Pinar Karaca-Mandic, PhD, professor and academic director of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute at U of M's Carlson School of Management, said in a news release.

To view the full study, click here.

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