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More than 60 percent of American hospitals report they are not prepared to handle an influx of COVID-19 patients as product shortages for critical items grow more severe during the pandemic.
According to the Premier survey released on Wednesday, hospitals are critically short of viral swabs that are needed to perform COVID-19 testing, with more than 60 percent reporting fewer than 250 such swabs on hand.
In addition, 20 percent of hospitals say they are in need of additional ventilators.
However, hospitals ranked the supply of N95 respirators as their main concern. Although 39 percent said that had 1,000 of the crucial masks on hand, 23 percent said they were burning through more than 100 masks a day, meaning that many systems have less than 10 days’ inventory.
A startling 27 percent of respondents said they could only take on one to five more patients before they would need more ventilators. Another 30 percent said they could take on 11 more patients before needing more of the vital breathing machines.
As hospitals strain to meet the demands of the virus, Premier is recommending a range of measures to conserve and stretch the limited supplies that are on hand. Those measures include limiting patient care areas to essential personnel only, screening and triaging patients prior to them entering the hospital, limiting visitors and using expired N95 masks.
The survey was conducted from March 16-20, 2020, and about 260 health systems responded, representing roughly 990 acute care facilities or 20 percent of the nation’s total hospitals