German Hospitals Have Been at Record-Low Occupancies Since the Start of Corona
What "overburdened" hospitals??
Machine translated from German.
The accusation weighs heavily: Unvaccinated people do not show solidarity because they pose a higher risk of infection and overload the health system. A multipolar analysis of the current billing data of the hospitals shows, however, that the hospital occupancy days have been in a permanent record low since the beginning of the corona crisis. Even the days of occupancy in the intensive care units have decreased compared to 2019. Recent studies also suggest that vaccinated people are mainly responsible for the current record incidence.
The outgoing Health Minister Jens Spahn sees the cause of the high utilization of the intensive care units only in the unvaccinated, and media comments suggest this . But what is the truth of the claim that the health system is on the brink of collapse and that the unvaccinated are solely to blame for the stricter measures?
Hospital occupancy at a record low
The billing data of the hospitals for the period from January to September 2021 is available in multipolar form and is recorded by the “Institute for the Hospital Remuneration System” ( InEK ). The data was made available one week late on November 19th. (1) Access to them via the InEK data browser turned out to be very difficult and time-consuming , as was the case with the previous multipolar research on the topic .
The data now available show that the German health system was far from being overburdened in the first nine months of this year. In fact, the opposite is true. Compared to the same period in 2019, the number of days in hospital occupancy fell by 19 percent and the days of occupancy with intensive stays by eight percent. Not only were fewer cases responsible for this decrease, but also a lower average length of stay of the patients in hospital.
Figure 1: Own illustration, data source: Institute for the remuneration system in hospitals
The most typical diagnoses for a severe COVID-19 infection are flu-like illness, pneumonia and other acute infections of the lower respiratory tract (ICD-10 accounting codes J09 to J22). Compared to 2019, these cases have decreased by 26 percent. Only in those cases that required intensive medical treatment was there an increase of 67 percent.
Figure 2: Own illustration, data source: Institute for the hospital remuneration system
The course of the number of inpatient admissions in hospitals shows how significantly the number of hospital cases declined in 2020 and 2021 compared to 2019 and what small proportion of this is caused by the flu, pneumonia and other acute infections of the lower respiratory tract.
Figure 3: ( click here for a larger representation ) Own illustration, data source: Institute for the remuneration system in hospitals
The proportion of these is significantly higher in the cases with an intensive care stay, but has no visible influence on the change in the number of total cases that had to be treated in intensive care.
Figure 4: ( click here for a larger representation ) Own illustration, data source: Institute for the remuneration system in hospitals
In view of the record low occupancy rates in German hospitals since the beginning of the corona crisis, the question arises not only whether people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 pose a threat to the German health system, but whether the pandemic will affect hospitals in this country at all if no action is taken would have posed a serious problem. According to the “analyzes of the hospitals’ performance and the flat-rate compensation in the Corona crisis” of April 30, 2021 by the Federal Ministry of Health’s expert advisory board, the loss of income in German hospitals triggered compensation payments of 10.2 billion euros in 2020 alone.
The Advisory Board’s report for the period from January to May 2021 has already been completed for months. Prof. Dr. Reinhard Busse from the Technical University of Berlin, member and chiefly responsible co-author of the reports of the expert advisory board, told Multipolar that Health Minister Spahn has not yet convened a relevant advisory board meeting. Is the minister not interested in publicizing the record underutilization of German hospitals?