Hospital capacity fell by nearly 13% during the decade that ended in 2006, but that capacity continued to vary widely across the U.S., according to a newly released report from the Dartmouth Atlas Project. A shift to outpatient care contributed to the decline to 2.46 staffed acute-care hospital beds per 1,000 residents in 2006 from 2.82 beds in 1996, according to the report. However, differences in capacity from one region to another held largely steady over the decade, even after adjusting for age and gender. The report found that regions with relatively high capacity in 1996 continued to be high in 2006. David Goodman, director of the Center for Health Policy Research and a professor of pediatrics and health policy at Dartmouth College, said that prior research has found hospital capacity does not vary based on community need. Meanwhile, hospital nursing employment grew during the decade to 3.7 full-time nurses per 1,000 residents in 2006 from 3.3 full-time nurses in 1996. Physician supply also varied greatly in 2006 and without regard to need, according to the report. Regions with the greatest number of primary-care doctors per capita had 2.5% more doctors than those with the least.
Late News: Hospital capacity fell from 1996 to 2006, but still varies
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