7/15/11

Canada has LESS hospital capacity than other developed countries

A new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) indicates that Canada has the lowest number of acute care hospitals beds of all OECD countries -- except for Mexico.

The 34 OECD countries are the world's richest countries.  Canada has 1.8 acute care beds per 1,000 population in 2008 (the most recent year reported). Mexico has 1.6, while Australia has 3.5, Germany has 5.7, Japan has 8.2, the Netherlands has 3.1, Britain has 2.7, South Korea has 5.4, France has 3.5, Austria has 5.6, and the USA has 2.7 (in 2007).

Overall, the OECD average is 3.6 -- exactly double the Canadian average.

For all hospital beds, Canada also lags: with 3.3 beds per thousand people versus an OECD wide average of 5.14 (64% more).

Canada also has the lowest hospital discharge rate per 100,000 than any other OECD country except for Mexico.  In 2008, Canada had 8,403 hospital discharges per 100,000 population, while the OECD average was 15,660. That's 86% more.

The situation is even more marked in Ontario: CIHI reports that Ontario has the lowest rate of hospitalization of any province or territory in Canada.

Hospital Under-capacity
It is often argued that hospital services are overdeveloped in Canada.  A result of this policy is that  over 600 hospital beds were cut across Ontario last year, most of them acute care beds.

But the OECD figures suggest that we have far less hospital capacity than other developed countries in key areas.

Accordingly, we also have much higher hospital bed occupancy than other developed countries (97.9% in Ontario).

So is it really surprising that our hospitals regularly cancel surgeries, delay treatment, and backlog patients in the Emergency Rooms?

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