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Exploring Reasons for Bed Pressures in Winnipeg Acute Care Hospitals*

  • Verena H. Menec (a1), Sharon Bruce (a1) and Leonard MacWilliam (a1)


Hospital overcrowding has plagued Winnipeg and other Canadian cities for years. This study explored factors related to overcrowding. Hospital files were used to examine patterns of hospital use from fiscal years 1996/1997 to 1999/2000. Chart reviews were conducted to examine appropriateness of admissions and hospital stays during one pressure week. Results indicate that pressure periods in the hospital system were driven by an influx of older adults with influenza-associated respiratory illnesses. Moreover, examination of one specific pressure week showed that at least 100 beds were occupied by patients who likely did not require acute care. The chart review revealed that a substantial proportion of non-acute patient-days were spent awaiting home care, long-term care, or diagnostic testing services. These findings suggest future bed pressures might be prevented through influenza vaccination and an increase in the availability of – and timely transfer to – alternative levels of care.

La surpopulation des hôpitaux constitue un fléau à Winnipeg et dans d'autres villes canadiennes depuis des années. Cette étude aborde divers facteurs liés à cette surpopulation. Les dossiers des hôpitaux ont servi à l'évaluation des fluctuations relativement à l'utilisation des hôpitaux pour les exercices 1996/1997 à 1999/2000. Un examen des dossiers a été mené afin de déterminer la pertinence des admissions et des séjours à l'hô pital pendant une semaine de forte affluence. Les résultats réve`lent que les périodes d'affluence du système hospitalier étaient dues à l'afflux de personnes âgées souffrant de maladies respiratoires associées à la grippe. Par ailleurs, l'examen d'une semaine de forte affluence en particulier a révélé qu'au moins une centaine de lits étaient occupés par des patients qui n'avaient probablement pas besoin de soins de courte durée. L'examen des dossiers a révélé qu'une proportion substantielle de jours-patients qui n'étaient pas de courte durée ont été passés à attendre des soins à domicile, des soins de longue durée ou des examens paracliniques. Ces conclusions semblent indiquer que l'on pourrait éviter d'éventuelles périodes de forte affluence au moyen de vaccinations contre la grippe ainsi que d'une augmentation de la disponibilité des autres niveaux de soins et de transferts rapides vers ceux-ci.


Corresponding author

Requests for offprints should be sent to: / Les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être addressées à : Verena H. Menec, Ph.D., Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, 750 Bannatyne Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3E ON3. (


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This research resulted from projects undertaken by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy under contract to Manitoba Health. The results and conclusions are those of the authors, and no official endorsement by Manitoba Health was intended or should be inferred. Dr. Menec holds a New Investigator Career Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.



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Exploring Reasons for Bed Pressures in Winnipeg Acute Care Hospitals*

  • Verena H. Menec (a1), Sharon Bruce (a1) and Leonard MacWilliam (a1)


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