Of the 110 children’s hospitals, 43 facilities did not have a single bed left on the normal ward. There are only 83 free beds left in pediatric children’s intensive care units throughout Germany! That’s 0.75 free beds per clinic, i.e. less than one per location.
This is the frightening result of a current ad hoc survey by the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI). “This is a catastrophic situation, there is no other way to describe it,” said DIVI Secretary General and pediatric intensive care physician Professor Florian Hoffmann.
At a press conference on the situation in children’s intensive care medicine, he therefore called on behalf of the association for “the immediate optimization of working conditions in children’s hospitals, the establishment of telemedical networks between the pediatric facilities and the establishment of specialized children’s intensive care transport systems. We have to act now.”
Half of the clinics could not admit sick children
130 children’s hospitals were contacted for the survey, and 110 made their data from the sampling day, November 24th, available. And almost every second clinic reports that in the past 24 hours they have been unable to accept at least one child for pediatric intensive care after a request from the rescue service or emergency room.
Specifically, this means that 46.4 percent of the clinics participating in the survey had to reject a total of 116 small patients – in just one day.
There were only 83 free intensive care beds, i.e. an average of 0.75 percent per clinic. 47 clinics report zero available beds, 44 clinics a free bed.
“This situation is getting worse from year to year and is carried out on the backs of critically ill children,” says Hoffmann, who is also senior physician in the interdisciplinary children’s intensive care unit at Dr. from the Hauner Children’s Hospital of the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.
All clinics are already participating in the nationwide, strategic patient transfer according to the cloverleaf concept. “Since an increasing number of children have to be transported, sometimes over long distances, we now need the establishment of specialized children’s intensive care transport systems in order to get the children to their destination hospital safely and accompanied by children’s experts,” appeals Prof. Hoffmann.
Aggravated by RSV
Children who have been infected with the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have recently been admitted to clinics particularly often, 138 in total. “The RSV wave continues to build up and necessitates treatment with respiratory support in many children. As of today, we can assume that there are not enough children’s intensive care beds for this treatment,” says Professor Sebastian Brenner, DIVI Congress President and Head of Interdisciplinary Pediatric Intensive Care Medicine in the Department of Neonatology and Pediatric Intensive Care Medicine at the University Children’s Hospital Dresden.
The DIVI numbers prove the alarming situation of the children’s hospitals in Germany: The 110 reporting houses have a total of 607 beds that can be set up, of which only 367 beds can be operated. The reason for the blocking of 39.5 percent of the intensive care beds for children is mainly the lack of staff.
Large clinics particularly affected
The DIVI experts also took a closer look at the larger children’s hospitals with eight or more intensive care beds. This includes a total of 32 houses. These reported 363 beds that could be set up, of which 221 could be operated on the day of the sample.
Means: 39.1 percent of children’s intensive care beds are closed – an average of 4.4 beds per intensive care unit! 17 free beds in these 32 clinics mean on average only 0.5 free beds per clinic.
“When asked about the intensive care capacities, a picture emerges that throughout Germany, regardless of whether north, south, east or west, an average of 40 percent of children’s intensive care beds are closed due to a lack of staff. Around 80 percent of those surveyed lack nursing staff, but there are also a lack of doctors,” summarizes Sebastian Brenner.
In addition to the demand for better working conditions in the children’s clinics, the establishment of telemedical networks between the pediatric facilities and the development of children’s intensive care transport systems, the children’s intensive care physicians are committed to comprehensively including children’s rights in the Basic Law. This is the only way they would move more into the political and social focus – and only then could medical care for the little ones be improved in the long term.
“If all of the aforementioned requirements were met, if the profession of doctors and nurses could be reconciled with family and if the constant stress in the clinics stopped, then we would be able to take care of all seriously ill children with the necessary highest quality of care can,” says Florian Hoffmann.