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Rates of hospitalization are decreasing in Ontario, but more young adults require acute care resources: study

May 20, 2021


A new study from researchers at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, ICES and The University of Toronto has found that over the past 25 years rates of hospitalizations have decreased across all age groups in Ontario, while rates of emergency department visits, ICU admissions and mechanical ventilation have increased, particularly among younger adults.

The study looked at over 32 million people from 1995 to 2019 using population-based administration data to compare healthcare resource utilization for people at nine distinct ages (20-100 years of age). The researchers assessed rates of emergency department visits, hospitalizations, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and mechanical ventilation.

The research sheds light on the likelihood of individuals at different ages accessing acute and critical care services, data that the authors say is currently lacking.

“Our findings provide important information on trends in healthcare delivery while accounting for the aging population, and also provide concrete numbers regarding the likelihood of specific health-related events for individuals of different ages,” says Dr. Bourke Tillmann, critical care physician at Sunnybrook and lead author of the study.

Although the data for the study was collected before the impact of COVID-19, the researchers say the findings are important in planning for ICU capacity post-pandemic.

“Despite decreasing rates of hospitalization, we found that rates of mechanical ventilation were already increasing across the province prior to the pandemic,” says Dr. Tillmann. Therefore, any plans for ICU capacity post-pandemic will need to account not only for the increased need created by COVID-19, but also the increasing baseline need of the population.”

Overall, the findings suggest that although the delivery of healthcare is shifting, a growing population of young adults still require significant inpatient healthcare resources.

Read the full study »

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