PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – The Arizona Department of Health Services has been working to fix errors in it’s COVID-19 data. While some information has been updated, the department has spent days to address other problems.
In a blog entry this week, the ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ said “a large healthcare provider” was reporting dates for patients being admitted to the hospital “when these individuals were not actually hospitalized.” The blog goes on to say the dates reported actually reflected dates the “the individual was seen by a healthcare provider.”
“A lot of people are relying on this information for planning purposes and to make decisions,” says former ADHS director, Will Humble. “I think we’re lucky that the problems have happened when we are in a little bit of a lull.”
Humble says hospitalization stats were crucial over the summer when the hospital resources and staff were pushed to the limits.
“If we had been getting unreliable data in July that would have been potentially catastrophic,” says Humble.
The reporting problem resulted in 2,815 patients being reported as hospitalized. The error primarily inflated Maricopa County figures. In the blog post, Dr. Christ said the data had already been updated. As of Thursday, 20,171 COVID-19 patients had been reported as hospitalized with COVID-19.
The work is not over, according to an ADHS spokesman. The agency confirmed this week that staff has been working with a provider for days to address a “technical reporting issue.” Those challenges have led to inaccurate bed counts and other discrepancies.
“Health care providers large and small have been excellent partners at meeting the technically challenging requirements to report daily data that can help Arizonans understand the state of the pandemic,” said an ADHS spokesman. “They are doing this while meeting the challenges of providing care amid COVID-19, and we’re grateful for their partnership.”
“It’s good that it happened in early October so they can get it straightened out,” says Humble. “There are lots of people that are relying on accurate dashboard information, not just today, but as we move into the cold and flu season in the coming months.”
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