The state of our health care system

/ 10 May 2009

I’ve been writing a lot lately about why we need a single payer health care system in the US. But here’s a whole other thing we ought to be focused on: providing appropriate amounts of acute care and public health infrastructure. As this blog post notes:

The other day I asked a colleague who specializes in these things to get me some data on staffed hospital beds today versus the last pandemic (1968). As I suspected we are considerably worse off now. At the time of the 1968 pandemic the US had about 4 "beds set up and staffed" for every 1000 people. In 2007 it was only 2.7. The difference of 1.3 beds/thousand translates into about 400,000 less staffed beds today than if we had the same per capita as 1968 (even in absolute terms it is about 50,000 fewer beds). I stressed staffed beds because as nurses are fond of saying, beds don't take care of patients, nurses do.

Many people have been saying since 9/11 that one of the best things we can do to prevent and combat bio-terrorism attacks is to build up our public health care system. That's a great idea for our general health, too!