Massachusetts will change how it reports COVID-19 hospitalizations


State officials will start differentiating between patients who were admitted due to COVID-19 and those who were unknowingly admitted with the virus.

Massachusetts General Hospital in Greeley Tribune. Josh Reynolds / The Washington Post

Massachusetts will soon differentiate whether residents were hospitalized for “Covid-19” or “COVID-19” in the state’s reporting data.

According to the Department of Public Health, starting next week, hospitals will report whether admissions are “primary or incidental to COVID-19”.

In other words, it will show whether patients were admitted to the hospital (and then tested positive for COVID-19 in the hospital) primarily because of the severity of their COVID-19 infection or for some other reason.

The change comes as the number of new daily COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts has reached a record high due to the Omicron version. The state has also seen the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 surpass the highest recorded number since last winter’s increase.

However, state officials have indicated that a good chunk of those COVID-19 hospitals are in the casualty category. As of October of 2020, Governor Charlie Baker said that a “significant number” of hospital patients with COVID-19 had been admitted for “some other purpose”. According to the State House News Service, which first reported the change coming Thursday.

And especially now, with nearly three-quarters of Massachusetts fully vaccinated and the Omron version Showing to be lighter than previous strains, some local doctors say the gap will give further “nuances” to the state’s number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, even if it doesn’t change the reality of the capacity challenges facing hospitals.

“A significant number of my COVID patients fell into bucket 2: mild symptoms and were discharged or admitted for non-COVID reasons but tested positive for COVID (of all admitted patients). is tested),” State Representative John Santiago, a Greeley Tribune emergency room physician, tweeted earlier this week, though he added that it “shouldn’t take away from the bed shortages we’re facing.”

“However, all of this shows that the vaccines are working – and doing a hell of a job,” Santiago said. “Remember that the primary goal of a vaccine was to prevent serious disease – not to stop transmission. Most of us have to have a covid, but most people will avoid serious consequences.”

This does not completely reduce complications for hospitals.

Dr Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, wrote this week that it was “more common” that patients with COVID-19 were admitted for other reasons and discovered they had the virus in hospital.

Still, Jha said some other conditions were the end result of COVID-19, and that care for patients with the highly transmissible virus requires extra precautions that “slow everyone down from seeing other patients.”

DPH officials declined to give any specific reason for the change.

New York State also Made similar changes to its COVID-19 hospitalization data reporting earlier this week. Governor Kathy Hochul said many “are not presenting themselves seriously.” But again, she said the rapid spread of the Omron version is still putting pressure on the state’s goofy hospitals.

“We’re not in a good place, I’ll be honest with you,” Hochul said.