ICU Numbers and Strain on the Healthcare System

Carter Mecher MD -- Medical Advisor
August 4, 2021

ICU numbers foreshadow numbers of deaths and ICU demand is important for understanding how the healthcare system might be impacted in the near future.

Looking a bit more closely at ICU numbers by state provides the best window for anticipating strain on the healthcare system. For any given patient, ICU patient demands takes precedence over non-ICU patient demands as well as deaths, given that ICU mortality is greater than non-ICU hospital mortality. Here the data for the maximum number of ICU patients at any time during the pandemic is shown as well as the dates when the maximum occurred. Then a calculation was made for each state and percentage of where each state is currently in terms of ICU patients relative to their pandemic maximum. Ten states have incomplete ICU census data -- so could not identify a pandemic maximum.  It is quite easy to see who is in trouble. Louisiana and Arkansas are above historical maximum ICU census.  Not surprisingly, seeing a bump in deaths for both states. It is critical to pay attention to these states going forward and any other regions that experience similar trends.

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