Hospital occupancy

Percentage of hospital beds occupied by patients. (see data dictionary)

What do you see?

  • Are there any trends over time at the hospital where you work or would be most likely to visit?
  • Are there differences in occupancy between hospitals of the same type (e.g., Medium Urban)?

Whether you’re a patient, provider, or health system administrator, thinking about why these differences might exist can start conversations and lead to solutions for improved quality of healthcare.

Alberta Health Services, Analytics. “Acute Care Occupancy.” (2018) [Dashboard of monthly and quarterly hospital occupancy by facility].  AHS Tableau Reporting Platform. Retrieved from

Understanding “hospital occupancy”

This percentage provides insights into whether or not a hospital has the ability to take in and care for new patients. Hospital occupancy may affect those waiting to be seen in the emergency department. For instance, emergency department patients admitted to the hospital cannot be moved to a hospital bed, forcing them to wait in the emergency department, which then limits space in the emergency department for newly arriving patients.

All patients that are admitted to the hospital are included in this percentage calculation, including alternate level of care patients, regardless of where they are located (e.g., post-surgical recovery room, emergency department). How can hospital occupancy exceed 100 per cent? If all the hospital beds are occupied, the hospital uses other spaces to provide care to admitted patients (e.g., beds located in lounges and hallways).
Results from May and June 2016 are not reported for the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre due to the forest fire that affected Fort McMurray and forced the closure of the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.

Results for November 2019 to March 2020 are not available for the University of Alberta Hospital and the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

Results for Grande Prairie up to November 2021 reflect care provided at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital. Results after November 2021 reflect care provided at Grande Prairie Regional Hospital.

The Health Quality Council of Alberta uses the Alberta Quality Matrix for Health as a way of organizing information and thinking around the complexity of the healthcare system. This measure can be used as input to assess the emergency department’s performance in these dimensions of quality:


Dimensions of Quality

  • Acceptability 
  • Accessibility 
  • Appropriateness 
  • Effectiveness 
  • Efficiency 
  • Safety