Fiddling the Hospital Figures

A senior doctor has got in touch with a warning about the hospital data being pumped out across the media to persuade us we’re in the midst of a deadly “second wave”.

Something to watch out for  Boris, Hancock and so on have painted themselves into a corner. They can’t backtrack and say they made a mistake in crashing the economy. They need the figures to show some justification for their approach and provide a ladder to eventually climb down. It’s inconceivable that they will acknowledge error in decision making.

As you know, medical figures can be presented in such a way as to resemble virtually anything  the PCR false positive saga being a case in point.

Hospital admission data are harder to fiddle with, but not impossible. For example, the definition of “patients in intensive care” can be widened to include not just patients on a ventilator but patients needing oxygen by CPAP mask as well, or even just oxygen by venturi face mask  this can make it look like there are a greater number of more severely ill patients than in fact there are.

Hospital admission data can also be “reclassified” – by lowering the criteria for admission, for example. Or by including all patients who attended A&E, even if they were subsequently sent home without spending a night in hospital.

Or the definition of Covid patients in hospital can be widened to include people who have had a positive test for Covid while being admitted for something else and are showing no Covid symptoms (in other words, an incidental finding).

There are many other ways of presenting the data to make the epidemic look more serious than it actually is  watch out for these tricks in the coming days. I have seen all of these methods used in the past in other settings.