New Tally Adds 16,000 Nursing Home Residents Lost to COVID

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By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 10, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- The fig of cases and deaths from COVID-19 successful U.S. nursing homes appears to person been grossly underestimated.

According to a new study, that's due to the fact that U.S. national guidelines did not necessitate nursing homes to study cases and deaths until May 24, 2020, months aft the pandemic began.

"Because of the hold successful the national reporting strategy for cases and deaths successful nursing homes, determination were astir 68,000 unreported cases and 16,000 unreported deaths from COVID-19 successful the aboriginal months of the pandemic," said pb researcher Karen Shen, an applied nationalist and labour economist astatine Harvard University.

"Accounting for underreporting changes the knowing of the toll connected nursing homes crossed places and crossed facilities," she added.

For instance, utilizing the reported figures without factoring successful the hold implies akin numbers of nursing location residents died successful New York (5,776) and California (5,622), oregon astir 5 deaths for each 100 beds successful some states, Shen said.

Once the unreported deaths were accounted for, however, the figures changed dramatically, she said.

"We estimation that nursing homes successful New York experienced 9,276 deaths [8 deaths per 100 beds], compared with 6,487 successful California [5.5 deaths per 100 beds]," Shen said.

The hold successful national reporting substantially affected nursing location counts, and Shen said the information should not beryllium utilized without immoderate qualification oregon correction.

"We would besides anticipation that successful aboriginal situations, determination would beryllium a faster and clearer information postulation effort that would debar immoderate of the disorder that resulted during this pandemic," she added.

For the caller study, Shen and colleagues compared COVID cases and deaths reported to the U.S. National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) and authorities wellness departments by May 31, 2020.

The illustration included numbers for 20 states and astir 12,000 nursing homes. Researchers expanded these information to see much than 15,000 nursing homes nationwide.

On average, 44% of COVID cases and 40% of deaths were reported to authorities wellness departments, but not to the NHSN, the survey found.


That suggests much than 68,600 cases and much than 16,600 deaths were not reported to NHSN.

But, Shen said, these figures whitethorn lone beryllium a fraction of unreported COVID cases and deaths successful nursing homes.

"There whitethorn beryllium further sources of undercounting, similar facilities choosing not to study deaths oregon not knowing the origin of death," Shen said. "But I americium not definite I cognize capable to person a conjecture astatine however large that undercount is apt to be."

The caller probe was published online Sept. 9 successful JAMA Network Open.

Infectious illness adept Dr. Marc Siegel of NYU Langone Medical Center successful New York City was not amazed by the undercounts.

Infection tin dispersed similar wildfire successful nursing homes, said Siegel, who wasn't portion of the study. Plus, nursing homes are not hospitals with the added precautions hospitals take.

"People successful nursing homes thin to beryllium precocious hazard due to the fact that they're run-down, they person underlying problems, and are astatine precocious hazard of this virus," helium said. "So the thought that the fig of cases and the fig of deaths successful nursing homes was underreported is not successful immoderate mode surprising."

At the clip of the study, Siegel added, determination was nary vaccine for COVID. He stressed that it's important present that everyone moving successful a nursing location get their shots.

"Vaccine is truthful important, and to find retired that the wellness attraction workers successful nursing homes are not afloat vaccinated is precise disturbing," Siegel said. "You request predominant testing, you request isolation -- it's precise elemental and a batch of it is not being done properly."

The Biden medication announced Aug. 18 that nursing location staffers indispensable beryllium vaccinated against COVID arsenic a information for the facilities to person national Medicare and Medicaid funding.

More information

To larn much astir nursing homes and COVID-19 deaths, sojourn the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Karen Shen, PhD, applied nationalist and labour economist, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.; Marc Siegel, MD, objective professor, medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City; JAMA Network Open, Sept. 9, 2021, online

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