With patient volumes ever on the rise, hospitals in the downtown core are continually faced with the problem of bed space. We often have more patients, than we have beds. This leads to a number of issues; having to re-direct ambulances, having to temporarily place patients in hallways, Emergency departments overflowing with patients waiting for in-patient beds, and having to cancel surgeries. This is a well-known issue for the province of Ontario and its aging population.
As a result, we often hear from patients and families members who are understandably frustrated about the lack of hospital beds and the lack of private or semi-private accommodations.
Here are some helpful things to know:
- If a patient comes to the Emergency department (ED) and is admitted to hospital, but there is no available bed on the unit to which the patient is assigned, then the patient will either 1) wait in an available bed in the ED, 2) be temporarily placed on another inpatient unit, or 3) be temporarily placed in the hallway on their assigned unit. Though not ideal, each of these options are a temporary solution until an appropriate bed becomes available.
- If a patient has requested private or semi-private accommodation, this is provided based on availability. Patients requiring private rooms for clinical reasons (i.e. infection/isolation, imminent death, clinical equipment) take precedence over patients requesting private accommodation as their preference. **It is important to note, that if a patient has been placed in a private room in accordance with their preference, they will be moved to another room if a patient later arrives to the unit who requires private accommodation for clinical reasons.
Without the ability to predict how many patients the hospital will receive, and without the ability to predict if/when inpatients will be medically safe for discharge, the issue of bed-space continues to require our attention and problem solving. We will continue to work collaboratively with our patients and families to provide care to all who come through our doors.