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More than 25% ‘Covid hospitalizations’ are people receiving treatment for another condition

 

More than one-in-four ‘Covid hospitalizations’ are people receiving treatment for another condition, study finds

  • Researchers found that 26% of ‘Covid hospitalizations’ at major hospitals were not caused by the virus itself
  • These incidental cases are a result of people coming in to treat another condition and testing positive while present
  • The study was conducted using data from before the Omicron variant – and it is likely current figures are even more inflated
  • Researchers warn these inflated figures could give the public and inaccurate picture of the current state of the pandemic

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More than one out of every four people included within the count of Americans ‘hospitalized with Covid’ were actually receiving treatment for another condition, a new study finds.

Researchers led by Massachusetts General Hospital investigated data from four major U.S. hospital systems and found that 26 percent of cases included in the tally are people who just happened to test positive for Covid while present for treatment.

The study includes a time period before the rise of the Omicron variant at the end of the 2021, but the figures impact how data from the surge should be judged. 

Covid hospitalization figures reached record levels during the Omicron Covid wave, but experts have warned that the number is largely inflated. This study, which is still pending peer review, gives Americans the first major look into how inflated the figures are.

The incredibly infectious nature of Omicron, its ability to evade vaccine protection and its more mild nature combine to allow to infect people without them even knowing, creating situations where a person does not know they are sick until they test.

Researchers categorized a sample of 'Covid hospitalizations' based on the true reason the patient was present, and discovered that at least 26% were miscategorized Researchers categorized a sample of 'Covid hospitalizations' based on the true reason the patient was present, and discovered that at least 26% were miscategorized

Researchers categorized a sample of ‘Covid hospitalizations’ based on the true reason the patient was present, and discovered that at least 26% were miscategorized 

Figures were most inaccurate during the second wave of the pandemic in summer of 2020, when some hospitals were less than 50% accurate in categorizing 'Covid hospitalizations' Figures were most inaccurate during the second wave of the pandemic in summer of 2020, when some hospitals were less than 50% accurate in categorizing 'Covid hospitalizations'

Figures were most inaccurate during the second wave of the pandemic in summer of 2020, when some hospitals were less than 50% accurate in categorizing ‘Covid hospitalizations’

‘Because 35% of [Covid] infections are asymptomatic, patients admitted for unrelated indications with an incidentally positive test could be misclassified as a COVID-19 hospitalization,’ researchers wrote. 

The study included Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in New York City, Massachusetts General Brigham in Boston, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

A total of 1,123 patients hospitalized with the virus between March 2020 and August 2021 were chosen for the sample.

Researchers then classified each of the hospital stays by the reason for admission.

Covid related admissions included people in the hospital for respiratory issues, blood clotting, blow flow issues and other common symptoms of the virus.

Non-Covid admissions included people who were receiving an unrelated surgery, women delivering babies and other conditions. 

A category was created for people suffering trauma injuries as well, though not a single person was placed in the category. 

Researchers found that 68 percent of admissions were Covid cases, while 26 percent were confirmed to be another caused. An additional six percent of hospital admissions could not be classified.

This means that even before Omicron, hospitalization figures were severely inflated in major U.S. hospital systems.

‘Misclassification of incidental COVID-19 during hospitalizations is common5 and raises research and public health concerns,’ researchers wrote. 

‘For example, deleterious effects on healthcare system resource disbursement or utilization as well as on local and regional social and economic structure and function can result from inaccurate reporting of incidental cases of [Covid].’

Researchers also found that number were most inaccurate during the summer of 2020, the second major surge the nation faced.

During the surge, less than 50 percent of logged Covid hospitalizations at both Mass. General and Beth Israel were actually caused by the virus.

This study was performed using data from before the Omicron period, and it is likely the figures were even less accurate during the recent wave.

Despite the more mild nature of the Omicron variant, and relatively low death totals, hospitalizations figures skyrocketed.

Many experts speculate that Covid itself did not fuel this sudden rise, but it instead was just that Covid was so prevalent in the American population that anyone receiving treatment for anything was included in the total. 

Massachusetts health officials were the first to delineate actual Covid hospitalizations from admissions with Covid late last month, and found that only half of that state’s ‘Covid hospitalization’ were actually the fault of the virus itself.

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