The COVID-19 terms you might still be getting wrong: Hospital Capacity and ICU/Hospitalization rates

Back in the spring of 2020, when Italy was one of the first countries in Europe to be dramatically hit by the novel coronavirus disease pandemic, the country’s health system was very close to collapse, faced with huge numbers of people desperately needing hospitalization.

In Italy’s case, hospitals in the country had reached their absolute maximum capacity. Hospital or Intensive Care Unit capacity refers to the ability of hospitals to care for patients, including not only the number of beds available but also the number of staff present to take care of patients.

As a specific and countable number, capacity is calculated as the percentage of numbers of beds occupied divided by the total number of beds available in a hospital or ICU unit.

The ICU or hospitalization rate, instead, serves to indicate the number of patients who seek treatment in hospital after being diagnosed with COVID-19 over the total population of a specific area or country.

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