Why ending COVID-19 won’t fix hospital bed shortages
While the pandemic has certainly worsened bed shortages at hospitals, ending COVID-19 won’t solve the problem. Not when the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reported that 91.6% of acute care beds in Canadian hospitals were already full back in 2017, well before the pandemic.
As beds and stretchers are filled, the emerg becomes overpacked with people who can’t get in for treatment simply because there’s not enough space for them.
Ultimately, the lack of available beds in hospitals will undoubtedly continue to put pressure on Canada’s already-fragile healthcare system and set nurses up to fail.
Explore how this crisis is affecting hospitals, nurses and patients on a deeper level — and what you can do to help to eliminate this issue at your hospital below:
Surgery Backlogs Add Even More Pressure To Clear Beds
When hospital beds become full, there’s a chain reaction that takes place that causes hospital services to stall.
Bed shortages mean that patient capacities have been stretched to their limit, putting a strain on available care and resources. To compensate, non-urgent surgeries are often postponed to make room for emergency patient care to prevent loss of life.
“Even stuff that is deemed non-essential is still important,” states Dr. Christopher Labos, who works as a Cardiologist and Epidemiologist in Canada. “If you’re somebody who’s waiting for a hip replacement and that just keeps getting delayed and delayed and delayed, you’re going to be living with chronic pain for months, if not years.”
Yet, the Canadian Institute for Health Information reports that over 500,000 surgeries were postponed or cancelled in Canada over the first 16 months of the pandemic alone.
With healthcare professionals predicting that these surgery backlogs will take years to clear, burnt-out hospital staff face even more pressure to keep beds open to get through the surgery backlogs and prevent more delays.
42% of Canadians Don’t Trust Hospitals for Proper Care in an Emergency
Thanks to the limited beds available in hospitals — and, as a result, the long wait times and delayed surgeries — nurses and doctors aren’t able to provide proper care for patients.
There’s now a growing sense of frustration from both patients and healthcare workers as understaffed hospitals grapple with overcapacity.
Although nurses and doctors want to do everything in their power to give patients exceptional care, they’re only human. They simply don’t have enough time to focus on improving patient satisfaction, enough eyes to constantly monitor every patient or enough hands to clear beds fast enough.
To restore trust in hospitals, staff need additional support to clear beds faster and improve the overall quality of patient care.
Embracing Innovation To Set Nurses and Doctors Up For Success
Adding more beds to hospitals won’t help surgeries or wait times move any faster.
“It is our responsibility to figure out how to do things more efficiently and a lot of what we do in health care isn’t efficient,” explains Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, Surgeon in Chief at the University Health Network in Toronto.
Keshavjee says that Canadian hospitals must move away from doing things a certain way just because that’s the way it’s always been done.
By changing that mindset, nursing and hospital leaders can start modernizing hospital rooms to allow patients to take more of an active role in caring for themselves.
Hospitals can, for instance, lighten the demand on healthcare staff by taking advantage of technologies that give patients the power to educate themselves around their health from their personal devices. Nurses can also benefit from fully-integrated technologies that can help them better monitor patients in a centralized manner.
It’s worth noting that any technology that can save nurses a few minutes with each patient will drastically improve their ability to provide effective care.
As hospitals begin adopting a more digital approach to patient care, staff will become more efficient, leading to less overcrowding, happier and healthier patients as well as a more dynamic team of nurses and doctors.
Get in touch with a FlexITy representative today to unlock an in-depth understanding of the technologies you can use at your hospital to reduce the workload for staff and help them do their jobs more efficiently.