Corona and its Effect on the German Health Care System

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Tue 17th Mar, 2020

The corona virus is testing the health systems of many countries. Hospitals in northern Italy are currently working at the limits of their capacity. What does the pandemic mean for German clinics?

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), 60 to 70 percent of the population in Germany could become infected with the new corona virus within a period of one to two years. In Germany there are about 28,000 beds for intensive care patients and the country has one of the largest hospital bed densities in the world. According to previous knowledge, this is crucial in terms of the death rate from Covid-19. Intensive care beds are equipped with complex monitoring devices and are looked after by more nurses. The RKI wants to develop a tool that can be used in the event of an overload in a particular hospital to see where there are still free beds nearby.

Regardless of the technical equipment, human resources in intensive care units is scarce. Personnel who are not trained in intensive care medicine must be trained at an early stage so that they can also be used in crisis situations.

Hospital workers are under great pressure: in addition to high workloads, many are afraid of falling ill or unconsciously infecting others with the virus.

In order to get through the epidemic with as little catastrophic disruption as possible, the population has to think and work together, says Clemens Wendtner, chief physician of infections and tropical medicine in Munich. He treated the first German Covid 19 patients there. In principle, the stationary capacities are available in Germany, "We just have to use the resources very sensibly and try not block each other."

Germany's Health Minister Jens Spahn today appealed in a letter to all German hospitals to recruit additional staff in the face of the corona crisis. He also asked the clinics to postpone as many planable operations and medical interventions as possible. "This creates free capacities for primary care and especially in intensive care units to treat people with serious respiratory diseases," said Spahn. At the same time, he guarantees that the resulting economic consequences for the hospitals will be compensated by the statutory health insurance companies. He communicated an unbureaucratic solution that will soon be legally launched and announced that ,"the Federal Government will take swift measures to ensure that the resulting economic consequences for hospitals are compensated and that no hospital is running into a deficit".

Further information in English and daily updates about the coronavirus in Germany can be found on this website and on the official website of the Federal Ministry of Health:

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