Health Minister Ioana Mihaila told a news briefing on Thursday that there have been differences in the reporting COVID-19 deaths since the early stages of the pandemic, because of red tape and the use by hospitals of different types of reporting.
“At the moment, there are differences between data reports in various databases that have collected death tolls. Any attempt to politicise the developments of the pandemic, I think, will lower people’s confidence in the way it has been managed. So I would rather we did not make political connection between the death tolls and the grief and misery of these people and any political context. Reporting differences have existed since the early part of the pandemic (…) As the board says in its report, such differences exist, and as the board concludes, these differences are rooted in red tape and different types of reporting used by hospitals,” the minister said.
She added that she asked the public health directorates to send “clarifications” regarding the methods of reporting COVID-19 deaths.
“I would not necessarily look for mistakes and culprits for reporting differences, but I would focus on improving the reporting process, which I have already started to do and in that regard I have already sent a request to the public health directorates with a recommendation to send us clarifications regarding the reporting methods. I would not necessarily look for culprits for these differences in reporting. As it has happened in other countries, an update is recommended of the number of reported deaths, an update that needs to come from the medical certifications of death that have the most eloquent data, and such certifications are certifications ascertaining the cause of death,” said Mihaila.
She said the “presumption” that there were counties that misused diagnostic codes is not proven at this time. “Your question starts from the presumption that there are counties that have misused the diagnostic codes. Such presumption is not proven at this time. At this time, we only have differences between the data that have been reported on different platforms. We have sent requests to the public health directorates, and by comparing these data that will be provided to us from the public health directorates, we will be able to see in which of the counties we can improve the process even more,” said Mihaila, according to Agerpres.
COVID-19 death toll report verification board recommends updating tolls on Corona-Forms platform
The board that has verified the way of reporting COVID-19 deaths in Romania recommends updating the data on the Corona-Forms platform, Health Minister Ioana Mihaila said on Thursday.
She told a news briefing that the Corona-Forms platform is the source of daily information communicated publicly by the Strategic Communication Group, the official novel coronavirus communication task force.
“All the information regarding the deceased persons that was communicated from the National Centre for Intervention Management and Coordination (CNCCI) was based on precisely this information from the Corona-Forms platform validated by the National Centre for Surveillance and Control of Communicable Diseases (CNSCBT),” said the minister.
She added that an analysis of data from the National Institute of Statistics, where death certificates are centralised, shows that in 2020 16,792 deaths were registered in Romania with a main diagnosis of COVID-19 with identified virus – U071, and 234 cases with unidentified virus – U072. “There were also 590 deaths from other causes associated with a secondary diagnosis of COVID-19 with identified virus – U071 and, 281 cases with a secondary COVID-19 diagnosis and unidentified virus – U072,” she added.
According to the minister, the analysis of code U071 and U072 deaths reported by hospitals to the National Public Health Institute (INSP), the National Centre for Public Health Statistics and Informatics, shows 26,106 deaths were reported in 2020, of which 227 with a main COVID-19 diagnosis. “Regarding the 25,879 deaths with a secondary COVID-19 diagnosis, the situation is as follows: 19,698 deaths have a code U071 secondary diagnosis and confirmed COVID-19 deaths, and 6,181 deaths have a code U072 secondary diagnosis and suspected COVID-19 deaths,” added Mihaila.
For the same period, in the Corona-Forms surveillance system, 16,120 deaths were reported in 2020, and 18,948 deaths in the Health Ministry ALERTS.
“The number of deaths from confirming those diagnoses that do not regard acute causes of death such as fractures, trauma, digestive pathologies, hernias, acute myocardial infarction from DRG reports sent by hospitals is 18,670,” added the minsiter.
She said that differences of up to 500 cases have been detected reported by hospitals between the two platforms.
“The board has analysed the differences between the reporting systems of the hospitals that recorded the largest differences and it has reported as causes, among others, varying death reporting from one hospital to another, with some hospitals acknowledging having failed to report to the public health directorates for various reasons, and says there is a generally low level of knowledge and some confusion on the part of reporters. (…) The DSP also mentions delays in reporting deaths. In that regard, the board recommends updating the death tolls on the Corona-Forms platform is needed,” said the minister.