April 9, 2020

Simulation to predict hospital capacity needs during COVID-19 pandemic

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

This study from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, finds that a susceptible, infected, removed (SIR) epidemic model can be adapted to local population characteristics to inform hospital planning for epidemic-related surges in hospital capacity.

Using COVID-19 patients only, the SIR model estimated that it would be 31 to 53 days before demand exceeded existing hospital capacity. In best- and worst-case scenarios of surges of COVID-19 patients, the needed total capacity for hospital beds would reach 3,131 to 12,650 across the three-hospital academic health system studied, including 338 to 1,608 ICU beds and 118 to 599 ventilators.


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Publicly available and designed for hospital operations leaders, this tool can inform preparation for capacity during early days of a pandemic, the authors say.

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