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Calculation of NICU Bed needs

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We are calculating what is the NICU bed requirement for a region. Instead of an arbitrary number, we decided to actually derive this number through scientific calculations.

So given a region with a population Y (Eg. Y= 1 million people) with a fertility rate of X live births per 1000, what would be the NICU bed requirement for that region? Of that how many would be NICU-Intensive care beds and how many NICU-Intermediate care beds?

I know it seems very hypothetical, but this is an actual problem we are facing and we will submit this to the appropriate authorities to justify our needs. I feel that with a proper scientifically derived requirement, it will be easier to get the help from the administration rather than based on arbitrary numbers.

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In Sweden, the goal is set to one level-3 bed per 1000 deliveries. Our level-3 care is pretty much regionalized, I think there are 8 NICUs that are formally categorized as level-3, on a population of 9 million people and 110.000 births per year.

Regarding level-2: I think the national standards vary more than the level-3 need around the world.

My own example, in the Karolinska unit where I work, there are 10.000 inborn infants (gestational week 28+0 and up), and we have 20-24 beds. We usually use all beds all the time... Our admission rate is slightly lower than the national average (about 8.5 vs 10 %), part of the explanation is that we keep some infants in the maternity wards that would qualify for neonatal admission in our hospitals with a larger number of beds.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Neonatal beds

These are the norms we are using in South Africa

District​​​3 / 1 000 local deliveries

Regional​​1,5 / 1 000 deliveries in 2o catchment area

Tertiary​​0,5 / 1 000 deliveries in 3o catchment area


Hospitals with 2 levels of care need to calculate the bed allocation for each level on the basis of the number of deliveries in the catchment area of each level.

At district level 1/3 of neonatal beds should be KMC, 1/3rd H/C and 1/3rd low care. We also recommend at risk babies are nurses with their mothers and only recommend admitting sick babies to the nursery/ neonatal unit.

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