The official indicator of the occupancy rate of intensive care beds exceeds 100% at the national level. However, this figure mixes different types of “critical care”. And it is calculated from the number of beds available before the health crisis.
On April 1, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced from the platform of the National Assembly that “with more than 5,000 Covid patients hospitalized in intensive care, the peak of the second wave [était] already exceeded ”and, on April 6, the official government website showed an intensive care bed occupancy rate of over 107%.
Figures that may seem surprising and disturbing at first glance, but which partly relate to abuse of language and a method of calculation based on the number of beds available before the Covid-19 epidemic.
On April 4, 5,341 “covid” patients were hospitalized in “critical care” in France. However, as explained The Parisian, “Critical care” is not necessarily synonymous with resuscitation and some of these patients are therefore in “intensive care” or “continuous surveillance” – different levels of care which depend on the severity of the patient’s condition. “Everyone needs to receive oxygen, but a resuscitation service makes it possible to put in much more resources and, if necessary, to intubate the patients,” explains Stéphane Gaudry, professor of intensive care in intensive care at the Paris-based daily. he Avicenne hospital in Bobigny (Seine-Saint-Denis).
We used to say “intensive care hospitalization”, but it was a bit out of language
A clarification that has also made the government site Public Health France, which expressed itself in these terms reported by The Parisian : “We used to say” intensive care hospitalization “, but it was a bit out of language. It has always been “critical care”, so we can compare what we gave before with the resuscitation label to what we give today with the critical care label. ”
The precise number of patients “in intensive care” – which is not updated daily – was on March 30 of 3,827 out of 5,090 patients treated in these services of “critical care”. In Ile-de-France for example, 1,087 patients were as of April 2 taken care of in intensive care, and 526 in intensive care or continuous surveillance.
A “Covid intensive care occupancy rate” based on the number of beds available in 2019
This figure is one of the indicators used to measure the evolution of the Covid-19 epidemic, and to justify, if necessary – with other indicators such as the number of new contaminations – the implementation of more restrictive measures against the virus. However, if this figure were calculated by comparing the number of patients with Covid-19 hospitalized in intensive care to the number of beds available in intensive care, it would be around 50% nationwide – with regional disparities (58.4% in Ile-de-France against 32.6% in Corsica for example, according to a graph produced by The Parisian).
The occupancy rate of 107% mentioned by the government – rate which also varies greatly between regions and reaches nearly 150% in Hauts-de-France – is actually based on the number of patients in “critical care” in relation to the resuscitation bed capacity strictly speaking available before the crisis, that is to say in 2019. With more than 5,300 patients with Covid-19 in “critical care” in France and 5,080 intensive care beds in 2019, we therefore obtain the occupancy rate of more than 100% posted on official websites.
However, according to the figures transmitted to the Parisian by the Directorate-General for the provision of care (DGOS), 7,906 resuscitation beds were “armed” on March 30 – nearly 2,500 more than in normal times. This number of “sheave” beds had even greatly exceeded 10,000 during the first wave, in spring 2020. Nationally, a little more than 7,000 of these 7,906 beds are occupied, a large half by patients with Covid .
Before the health crisis linked to Covid-19, “the average occupancy rate of an intensive care unit was already on average 90%”, also specifies the DGOS.