Episode 18

Model Health – Using Maths to Understand a Hospital ICU

No one ever wants to end up in an intensive care unit. But if you do need that care, you want to make sure it’s available. To get into the ICU, though, the hospital must have a bed for you.

Now look at this problem from another angle – the side of the hospital. How many beds does the hospital need for its intensive care unit? Clearly, a hospital wants to make sure it has enough beds, but not too many. That’s a waste of space and resources – and that costs money.

So how does a hospital decide how many beds it needs for an ICU?

Turns out, this is a mathematical problem that was recently given to ACEMS Deputy Director and Chief Investigator Nigel Bean from The University of Adelaide.

In this episode, Nigel shows us how he tackled the problem and the unusual challenges it presented because of how a hospital runs. It’s a fascinating example of how maths can reveal a lot about what’s happening all around us!

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