OIG reports hospitals facing challenges diagnosing, treating COVID-19 patients

April 9, 2020

Shortages of personal protective equipment and access to test kits and supplies are hampering hospitals’ ability to diagnose and treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, as are a host of other challenges, according to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Health and Human Services. 

The OIG reached this conclusion through a telephone survey of 323 hospitals in 46 states that was conducted between March 23–27. 

The problems are widespread as most hospital officials who responded to the survey said they are currently treating patients with suspected of confirmed cases of COVID-19. The OIG emphasized a cycle in which delays in getting testing supplies and test results kept ill patients with suspected cases of COVID-19 in the hospital longer, draining supplies, clogging inpatient beds and taxing staff. 

Other challenges that hospitals described included: 

·       Keeping staff safe.

·         Expanding or maintaining bed capacity to treat patients with COVID-19.

·         Maintaining adequate staffing levels to care for patients with COVID-19.

·         Obtaining supplies needed for hospital rooms, such as such as intravenous therapy (IV) poles, medical gas, linens, toilet paper and food.

·         Shortages of other supplies, such as no-touch infrared thermometers, disinfectants and cleaning supplies.

·         Balancing increased costs and decreased revenue, from postponed elective procedures, to maintain financial viability.

·         Inflated prices for supplies, such as PPE. 

OIG has the report

More COVID-19 coverage HERE.