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This report describes the results of a survey of capacity1 in departments of internal medicine in 2003 and the trend from 1999-2003. The survey in 2003 shows that there has been an increase in the number of  excess patients and the number of patients ready to be discharged in the country as a whole since 2002. The prevalence of these types of patients was at about the same level as in 1999.

In the survey week in 2003, the occupancy rate was over 100 per cent in ten health trusts, and there were 50 or more excess patients per 1000 hospital beds in eight health trusts. In five health trusts there was both a high occupancy rate and a high number of excess patients. There is reason to look more closely at the situation in these health trusts. An important issue for the regional health authorities and the health trusts is whether a high prevalence of excess patients is associated with too low capacity.

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.