35 percent of intensive care beds not used properly in Turkey: Health Ministry
Mesude Erşan – ANKARA
Some 35 percent of hospital beds in intensive care units in Turkey are not being used “properly,” which is why shortages occur, according to the Health Ministry.
Higher numbers of patients brought on by the onset of winter have also affected intensive care services. However, the already adequate supply of beds in intensive care units should more than cover the seasonal hike in patients. The real problem is “ineffective” bed usage, which has made finding an available bed a major concern for many hospitals, according to the Health Ministry.
The main problem is that intensive care units treat “unsuitable” patients while those whose treatments are over remain in intensive care instead of being transferred to a general ward, Turkish Society of Intensive Care Board Chairman Prof Dr. Mehmet Uyar has said.
“Patients accumulate in emergency service units. In order to free up those services immediately, they are sent to intensive care,” Uyar said.
The renowned professor warns against the unnecessary use of intensive care units. “Intensive care units save lives, but they are also risky places in terms of infections etc. Patients should not be kept there unless absolutely necessary,” he said.
In the past, when doctors told families they could take patients out of intensive care units, families immediately did so, whereas now they often say “we cannot look after them so the state should,” Uyar added.
According to former Health Ministry Director General Prof. Dr. Nurullah Okumuş, intensive care units already have enough bed space, “sufficient numbers of specialists and personnel” and the “most developed technology.” The problem is an “unwise use of the intensive care units.”
His comments came during an October 2017 symposium titled “The Wise Use of Intensive Care Units.” At this point in time he was still Health Ministry Director General.
“Intensive care units have twice the number of beds for newborns than we need. Although the number of intensive care beds and specialists is enough, from time to time, we encounter news items such as ‘this person died because of no available bed in intensive care’ or ‘this person was transferred because of no available bed in intensive care,’” Okumuş said.
“Whether an intensive care unit admits a patient should be decided by the doctor of that ward. Patient relatives should not insist on the issue,” he added.
There are 22,000 beds for adults, 12,000 beds for newborns and 1,500 beds for children in intensive care units nationwide. This corresponds to 2.25 beds for every 10,000 people in the country, according to health ministry figures.