A new Dartmouth Atlas report, "The Hospital and Physician Capacity Update," shows that "the supply of hospital beds and doctors varies widely from region to region across the United States, and the variations have nothing to do with the level of care patients want or need."
From a Dartmouth news release:
One example that illustrates the large variations: San Mateo and San Luis Obispo—both in California—had 1.45 beds per 1,000 residents in 2006, while Mississippi’s Jackson and Gulfport both had triple that number, 4.44 beds per thousand.
The distribution of hospital capacity fails to reflect the regional need for hospital care, either for beds or for hospital staff. As the health reform debate heats up, the report’s lead author, David Goodman, M.D., M.S., professor of pediatrics and community & family medicine at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, said it is important to understand the disconnect between the supply of hospital beds and patient needs.
“Simply put, a built bed is a filled bed,” says Goodman. “While high hospital and physician capacity drives costs upwards, there are many regions that do well with many fewer beds and physicians per capita. Health systems in these lower capacity regions show that efficiency is a partner, not a competitor, of quality."