Coronavirus latest: Idaho warned hospital care compromised due to Covid cases, shortages

Idaho has warned some of its residents they may not receive the level of care or treatment they expect owing to a “severe” shortage of staff and hospital resources brought on by the latest wave of Covid-19 patients.

The health and welfare department announced on Tuesday that areas in the north of the state entered a “crisis standards of care” on September 6, following a meeting between top public health officials earlier that day to review the measures that have been taken to address staff and bed shortages at hospitals.

When activated, crisis standards of care guidelines are designed to help healthcare providers make decisions about how to prioritise and ration “the best care possible” during a disaster or public health emergency. The guidelines can be put in place when there are “not enough healthcare resources to provide the usual standard of care to people who need it”, with the ultimate goal of saving as many lives as possible, Idaho’s Department of Health & Welfare said.

“Crisis standards of care is a last resort. It means we have exhausted our resources to the point that our healthcare systems are unable to provide the treatment and care we expect,” Dave Jeppesen, DHW director, said in a statement.

When the guidelines are in effect, unexpected care could include finding that hospital beds or equipment are not available or that an available bed might be in a repurposed room.

The guidelines will remain in place until there are sufficient resources to provide the usual standard of care to all patients, the DHW said.

Idaho had a record 553 patients in hospitals across the state being treated for Covid-19 on September 6, according to an FT analysis of data from the US Department of Health & Human Services Department. 

About 66 per cent of the state’s 3,443 inpatient beds are currently in use, and about 16 per cent are being used by patients being treated for Covid-19, according to HHS data. That compares with the national average of 75 per cent of beds in use and 14 per cent of beds used by Covid-19 patients. 

However, 89 per cent of intensive care unit beds in Idaho are in use, 10 percentage points higher than the national average, and with about 56 per cent of ICU beds taken up by Covid-19 patients, compared with 32 per cent for the US overall.

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