19 – What is the situation like in the hospitals?


The number of corona infections continues to rise – more people have to be treated in hospitals, some of them in the intensive care unit. Doctors fear that their number will continue to rise despite the tough lockdown that has been decided.

The President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (Divi), Janssens, said on ARD television that we now have “a real crisis situation”. In the hospitals it is not “five to”, but “five after twelve”. The nursing staff has been at the limit for weeks. The lockdown must now be pervasive and sustainable. Janssens had previously described the dpa to family reunions as “extremely disagreeable”. “It should be clear to everyone that after the Christmas celebrations there will be many more grandmas who will ultimately die alone in the hospital.”

The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units is increasing

According to the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, 4,583 Covid-19 patients were last treated in intensive care units (December 14th). 57 percent of them received invasive ventilation.
According to the DIVI intensive care registry, there are currently around 24,347 intensive care beds in Germany, of which around 20,071 are occupied. However, a so-called emergency reserve is still available. 11,089 more intensive care beds could be set up within seven days.

Regional differences

Due to the dynamic infection process, the intensive care bed capacities in Saxony were meanwhile scarce. According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, control centers have been set up for the possible distribution of patients. These are supposed to monitor the capacities of the hospitals. If all of the Saxon clinics are fully utilized, patients are transferred to clinics in other federal states.

In the so-called clover leaf concept, Germany has been divided into five regions, within which patients are then to be distributed. Together with Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Berlin and Brandenburg, Saxony belongs to the region of Eastern Germany.

The situation is different in the countries. In Schleswig-Holstein, with 28.3 percent, more than every fourth intensive care bed is free, in Rhineland-Palatinate (24.5%), Brandenburg (24.2%) and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (23.9%) it is almost every fourth . The situation is more tense elsewhere. In Berlin only 12.8% of intensive care beds are free, in Hesse only 12.6% – and thus only around one in eight. The situation in Saxony also remains tense, where 13.4 percent of the beds are free.

Bottleneck factor personnel

It is unclear whether all free beds can be used in an emergency. Doctors and nursing associations have repeatedly pointed out that not enough staff are available for the intensive care units. This was also the case before the corona pandemic. Nursing staff in intensive care units are specially trained and cannot simply be replaced by other nurses.

Sick nursing staff complicates the situation

What causes the hospitals big problems, according to their own information, is the lack of staff, which is made more difficult by the fact that many employees also become infected in their private environment and then fail to work. Ulrich Frei, member of the board of directors of the Berlin Charité, said that they were trying by all means to recruit sufficient nursing staff. According to the State Hospital Association, the Brandenburg clinics are also suffering from staff shortages due to Covid infections and quarantines.

How tense the situation is is also shown by a statement by Federal Health Minister Spahn at the German Care Day, according to which infected or quarantined nurses in hospitals should continue to work if necessary so that operations can be maintained.

However, the use of corona-infected nurses should remain the exception and can only take place under high security precautions with FFP2 or FFP3 masks. Such cases were based on a corresponding recommendation by the Robert Koch Institute that had been in place for months, the minister said.

Further articles on the coronavirus

We have created a news blog. In view of the large amount of information, this provides an overview of the most important current developments.

Numbers and dates

+ Current developments: Figures on the coronavirus in Germany (as of December 14th)
+ High numbers of corona infections: is the incidence value 50 correct? (As of December 11th)

Test and protection

+ Protection: This is how the vaccination against the coronavirus should be organized (status: 09.12.)
+ How useful are mass tests for the whole population? (Status: November 28th)
+ What good are night curfews (as of December 5th)
+ Corona infection: how reliable are the tests? (As of November 18)
+ Treatment: This is how far vaccine research against the coronavirus is (as of December 9th)
+ Infection: What is known so far about reinfections and immunity against the coronavirus? (As of November 30th)
+ What is the situation like in the hospitals? (As of December 10th)

Contagion and Transmission

+ Positive examples: Can Germany learn from other countries? (As of 3.12.)
+ Transmission: how contagious are children? (As of November 17)
+ Transfer: What role do aerosols play (as of 10.10.)
+ Face masks: What you should know about protective masks (as of October 29th)
+ Excess mortality: how deadly is the coronavirus really? (As of December 10th)
+ Travel warning: The current list of risk areas (as of December 9th)

You can also find the Dlf news on Twitter at: @DLFNews.

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