April 6, 2020 -- Three of every four U.S. hospitals now have COVID-19 patients and they expect to be overwhelmed as the crisis worsens and they struggle with a wide range of problems, a U.S. inspector general's report warns.
It's based on a telephone survey of 323 hospitals nationwide conducted March 23-27. Three-quarters of the hospitals said they already had patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, the Associated Press reported.
Hospitals also said they're grappling with numerous challenges, including too few tests, slow test results, shortages of protective gear, lack of breaking machines for seriously-ill patients and exhausted, anxious staff, according to the report due out Monday.
There's this sort of domino effect," Ann Maxwell, an assistant inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services, told the AP. "These challenges play off each other and exacerbate the situation. There's a cascade effect."
"Hospitals reported that their most significant challenges centered on testing and caring for patients with known or suspected COVID-19, and keeping staff safe," the report said.
"It's likely that every hospital in America is going to have to deal with this," Maxwell said.
The U.S. has more diagnosed COVID-19 cases than any other country, according to Johns Hopkins University data, and projections indicate that U.S. cases will peak later this month, the AP reported.
"Hospitals anticipated being overwhelmed by a surge in COVID-19 patients, who would need specialty beds and isolation areas for effective treatment," according to the inspector general's report.
"Health care workers feel like they're at war right now," a hospital administrator in New York City told the federal investigators, the AP reported. They "are seeing people in their 30s, 40s, 50s dying. This takes a large emotional toll."