FRIDAY, Sept. 10, 2021 (HealthDay News) — The number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 in US nursing homes appears to be underestimated.
“Because of delays in the federal reporting system for cases and deaths in nursing homes, there have been approximately 68,000 unreported cases and 16,000 unreported deaths from COVID-19 in the the first months of the epidemic. An economist working at Harvard University.
“Calculating under-reporting is changing understanding of the costs that nursing homes incur across settings and across facilities,” she added.
For example, using the reported numbers without accounting for the delay means that similar numbers of nursing home residents died in New York (5,776) and California (5,622), or about 5 deaths per 100 beds in both states, Shen said.
Once the unreported deaths were accounted for, she said, the numbers changed dramatically.
“We estimate that New York nursing homes have had 9,276 deaths [8 deaths per 100 beds]Compared to 6,487 in California [5.5 deaths per 100 beds]Shane said.
The delay in federal reporting has significantly affected the number of nursing homes, and Shen said the data should not be used without some qualification or correction.
“We also hope that in future situations, there will be a faster and clearer data collection effort that will avoid some of the confusion that has resulted during this pandemic,” she added.
For the new study, Shen and colleagues compared COVID cases and deaths reported to the US National Health Care Safety Network (NHSN) and state health departments by May 31, 2020.
The sample included numbers for 20 states and nearly 12,000 nursing homes. The researchers extended this data to more than 15,000 nursing homes nationwide.
The study found that, on average, 44% of COVID cases and 40% of deaths were reported to state health departments, but not to the NHSN.