Tamil Nadu

Deaths under-reported at six hospitals: analysis

As against the 863 deaths due to COVID-19 declared at six government hospitals during April and May this year, the actual number is likely to be 13.6 times more, indicating under-reporting of deaths in the State, NGO Arappor Iyakkam claimed.

It took up analysis of the death data at these hospitals and claimed to have found a total of 11,699 deaths during the period. The hospitals are Government Rajaji Hospital, Madurai; Coimbatore Medical College Hospital; Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College Hospital, Tiruchi; Vellore Medical College Hospital; Karur Medical College Hospital; and Tiruppur Government Headquarters Hospital.

Convener Jayaram Venkatesan said the report was based on the death certificate data released by the State government on a website, and necessitated a comparison with previous years.

The NGO found that the data had been uploaded for 2019, 2020 and 2021. Data for the number of death certificates issued for men and women were collected for each day from January to May for each of these hospitals for 2019, 2020 and 2021. They were compared with the deaths declared in the daily bulletin released by the Health Department (April and May 2021).

The number of deaths at the six hospitals was around 2,000 a month from January to March this year. The number of deaths was around 2,000 a month during April and May in the previous years.

However, it increased to 3,009 in April 2021 and 8,690 in May 2021, according to the report.

In total, there were 11,699 deaths in April and May this year at these hospitals — 3,152 in Madurai; 3,464 in Coimbatore; 1,806 in Tiruchi; 1,416 in Vellore; 960 in Karur; and 907 in Tiruppur — as against 4,437 in 2019 and 3,261 in 2020.

In short, this was 7,262 more than the number of deaths in April and May 2019, and 8,438 more than the number in April and May 2020. In the absence of other major factors, these increased deaths were likely to be due to COVID-19 and its complications, Mr. Venkatesan said.

The report said there seemed to be gross under-reporting of deaths at the Tiruchi hospital, while no COVID-19 death was declared at the Tiruppur hospital from April 1 to May 19. In fact, the total death certificates issued for these dates were 489.

However, the overall deaths at these six hospitals declared in the media bulletin for April and May (as of June 13) was only 863, he said.

The analysis concluded that mortality at these six hospitals was 13.6 times the reported COVID-19 deaths. Compared with the increased deaths over the previous years, the deaths due to COVID-19 and its complications were likely to be 8.4 to 9.8 times more.

If the under-reporting factor of the six hospitals was applied to the entire State, the total number of COVID-19-related deaths might be between 1,08,721 and 1,26,841 as against the reported 12,943 deaths (April and May), he said.

Mr. Venkatesan said medical certification for cause of death (MCCD) was not handed over to patients as per the protocol of the Indian Council of Medical Research, and deaths were heavily under-reported with the mortality code U07.2 skipped.

The NGO called for transparency in putting out death certificates, mortality data and its consolidation for hospital as well as home deaths for all three years and issuance of MCCD to relatives of the deceased.

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 2:07:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/deaths-under-reported-at-six-hospitals-analysis/article34825623.ece

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