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The Norwegian Board of Health has carried out several surveys of capacity 1 in hospital departments of internal medicine. This report describes the situation in 2002 and the trend from 1999-2002.

For the country as a whole, a reduction in the number of  excess patients was registered from 1999 to 2002. The reduction was greatest in the regional hospitals, but the Norwegian Board of Health still regards the situation in these hospitals as giving cause for concern.

The Norwegian Board of health points out that continuous monitoring of the situation is necessary, both by the central authorities, the health authorities, the health trusts and the departments of internal medicine, in order to ensure that the positive trend continues. It is also important for the Norwegian Board of Health in the counties to monitor the local situation.

 1 The surveys described in the report investigated capacity in departments of internal medicine by measuring the prevalence of “excess patients” and “patients ready to be discharged” in the survey week. The Norwegian term that is used for excess patients is “korridorpasient”, which means literally “corridor patient”.

“Excess patients” are patients who are placed in a bed in a hospital corridor, a bathroom, a day-room, a treatment room or any other type of room that is not intended to be used as a patient room, because all the ordinary hospital beds are occupied.

“Patients who are ready to be discharged” are patients who have finished their treatment, who could already have been discharged from hospital, but who are still in hospital because they are waiting to be offered a place by the municipality in, for example, a nursing home or sheltered accommodation.