BERLIN (AA) – Children's hospitals across Germany are facing a serious crisis due to the rise in viral infections, according to doctors and medical associations.
"Children are dying because we can no longer take care of them," Michael Sasse, a senior physician in charge of pediatric intensive care at Hannover Medical School, told the news site Merkur Online on Tuesday.
According to the physician, the situation was already precarious even before the current wave of respiratory infections. But the enormous number of infections with the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) has made the situation even worse.
Sasse added that the clinics are "totally" overstretched, and children are now being treated in normal wards which actually belonged to intensive care units.
The DIVI association for emergency medicine has warned of a "catastrophic situation" in children's intensive care units after it carried out a survey with doctors from 130 children's hospitals in Germany.
The Robert Koch Institute, Germany's disease control agency, has announced that the viral infections are expected to continue rising in the coming weeks.
- Health minister pledges reform of health services
In related news, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Tuesday that a "revolution" was planned for German hospitals.
"Hospitals have serious problems," he told a news conference in Berlin. The main problem, he underlined, is the payment of hospitals via so-called flat rates per case. These are flat rates for comparable treatments.
As a result, he said, clinics get caught in "a hamster wheel" of performing as many treatments as possible in the cheapest way possible. "Thus, with this system, you have a tendency toward cheap medicine," Lauterbach continued.
His reform proposals call for patients in German hospitals to be treated less according to economic considerations and more according to medical ones in the future.