Mar 20, 2020 - Health

The U.S. health care system is short staffed

Data: OECD GDP, OECD doctors,  The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: OECD GDP, OECD doctors,  The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Despite being the world's largest economy and having a private health care system that politicians routinely call "the best in the world," the U.S. lags badly among industrialized countries in terms of the number of doctors.

The state of play: The U.S. is 25th in the number of doctors among OECD countries and has the third-lowest number of doctors among countries that have 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The big picture: The number of doctors will be key in fighting the health crisis that must be quelled before the American economy can get back on its feet. As will the number of hospital beds — another area where the U.S. comes up short.

What they're saying: "Every corner of the U.S. is at risk for a severe shortage of hospital beds as the coronavirus outbreak worsens, according to new simulations from Harvard, mapped out by ProPublica and the New York Times," Axios' Bob Herman writes.

  • "Total nationwide capacity for health care supplies doesn't always matter, because hospitals in one area can help out neighboring systems when they're overwhelmed by a crisis. But these projections indicate that won't be an option with the coronavirus — everybody will be hurting at the same time."
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