Errors in covid data reveal unreliable tracking system for nursing homes




Case and death counts on the Department of Health’s website often mismatch what facilities report independently, or what is reported by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Sometimes, the number of cases or deaths reported in a facility exceeds the number of residents altogether. Occasionally, the cumulative totals will fluctuate up and down from week to week, as if deceased residents are coming back to life. Often, the fields show “no data” at all.

“It’s not getting any better,” said Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Healthcare Association. “We’ve lost faith, unfortunately, as an industry, in much of the data that’s been collected, reproduced and distributed on a state or federal website. We just don’t trust it at this point.”

While facilities are inundated with information, the state Department of Health also is struggling with an overload of covid-19 data, a health department spokesman said. The workload is compounded by an understaffed team of workers who all have other responsibilities. But at the end of the day, he said, the data is provided for the public’s benefit.

Author(s): Teghan Simonton

Publication Date: 3 January 2021

Publication Site: Trib Live