A “significant portion” of patients counted as Covid-19 hospitalisations in New South Wales were admitted for other medical issues, The Daily Telegraph has revealed.
Government data obtained by the outlet showed the state’s daily Covid-19 hospitalisation number was inflated by including patients who tested positive to the virus after being admitted to hospital for other reasons, such as broken bones, labour pains, and mental health issues.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard admitted that up to half of those listed as having been “hospitalised” for the virus simply tested positive after routine checks following admission for non-Covid reasons.
“A reasonable proportion of cases being classified as Covid hospitalisations are actually people with other reasons for admission,” Hazzard said.
“Heart attacks, births, falls, none of that stops just because there is Covid. They come into hospital, they have a swab taken and it confirms Covid.”
“This shows us it’s out in the community, but we aren’t necessarily seeing that as the primary reasons for all of the admissions.”
Last year, hospitals in the UK were similarly accused of inflating Covid hospitalisation numbers by counting patients who had tested positive to the virus after being admitted for other reasons.
Leaked NHS data, which covers all NHS trusts in England, just 44 percent of patients labelled as being hospitalised with the virus had tested positive by the time they were admitted.
Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford told The Telegraph at the time that the published data risks leading the public towards false conclusions.
“When people hear about hospitalisations with Covid, they will assume that Covid is the likely cause, but this data shows something quite different – this is about Covid being detected after tests were looking for it,” he said.
“This needs to be fixed as a matter of urgency.”
This also raises questions about how many people have actually died from Covid, or whether people admitted to hospital, who died due to other medical issues, would have been listed as a Covid death if they were to die with the virus.