Texas State Health Department Corrects Death Toll After Mistakenly Attributing 225 Deaths To COVID-19

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Aug 02, 2020 - 01:15 PM

Authored by Paula Liu via The Epoch Times

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced that its system made an error calculating the number of deaths directly caused by COVID-19according to a tweet sent out on July 30.

The error was discovered on Wednesday, and Texas DSHS indicated that the error incorrectly categorized 225 as COVID-19 fatalities despite COVID-19 not being listed as a direct cause of death on the death certificate, according to the Tweet.

Texas DSHS stated that the issue was revealed after a manual quality check and by the end of the day on Wednesday, the number of COVID-19 fatalities was fixed to reflect the corrected data in time for the COVID-19 deaths update on Thursday.

On Monday, the Texas DSHS began using death certificates as a way to identify the number of deaths directly caused by the disease, according to a news release issued by the Texas DSHS.

Because a death certificate is required to be filed within 10 days of an individual’s death, the DSHS stated that this would greatly improve the speed of counting fatalities caused by COVID-19, as well as providing the public with detailed information about where and when the death occurred.

This method does not count individuals who contracted COVID-19 but died of other causes.

Prior to this method, fatalities were counted and reported to the DSHS through a regional or local health department after it had been notified and had verified the death themselves.

Overcounting COVID-19 Deaths

A problem with the prior method was that when filing death certificates, hospitals were incentivized to overstate the number of COVID-19 deaths due to receiving monetary compensation for doing so, something that Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) called a “perverse incentive,” according to a House hearing that took place on Friday.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said during the panel hearing that he agrees this over-reporting of COVID-19 deaths does exist in hospitals and is something that has been seen with other viruses, such as HIV.

“In the HIV epidemic, somebody may have a heart attack but also have HIV—the hospital would prefer the [classification] for HIV because there’s greater reimbursement, so I do think there’s some reality to that,” said Redfield.

“When it comes to death reporting, though, ultimately, it’s how the physician defines it in the death certificate, and … we review all those death certificates. So I think probably it is less operable in the cause of death, although I won’t say three are not some cases. I do think, though, when it comes to hospital reimbursement issues or individuals that get discharged, there could be some play in that for sure.”