Study Finds COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths Were Underreported

A study published on September 9, 2021 by JAMA Network Open entitled “Estimates of COVID-19 Cases and Deaths Among Nursing Home Residents Not Reported in Federal Data” found: “In this cross-sectional study of 15 307 US nursing homes, approximately 44% of COVID-19 cases and 40% of COVID-19 deaths that occurred before the start of reporting were not reported in the first NHSN [National Healthcare Safety Network] submission in sample states, suggesting there were more than 68 000 unreported cases and 16 000 unreported deaths nationally.”

More specifically, the study’s authors reported: “There were 90 264 cases and 25 355 deaths reported nationwide in the first NHSN submission on May 24. By using our adjusted regression to estimate the share of cases and deaths that were not reported at each nonsample state facility, we estimate that 68 613 cases and 16 623 deaths were omitted in the first NHSN submission owing to the lack of required retrospective reporting, implying that a mean of 43.2% of cases and 39.6% of deaths were omitted nationally. By adding these undercount estimates to the December 27 totals (the last NHSN submission of 2020), we estimate that the year-end total nursing home case count was 592 629, and the death count was 118 335. Unreported cases and deaths accounted for 11.6% and 14.0% of these totals, respectively.”

The underreporting of nursing home COVID-19 deaths was due to federal reporting guidelines not requiring nursing homes to report case and death data until the week ending May 24, 2020.

The study concluded: “The findings of this cross-sectional study suggest that federal NHSN data understated total COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes. To date, both academic and policymakers’ analyses of facility-level determinants of infections and mortality have likely been limited owing to the reliance on federal estimates. In particular, use of the unadjusted federal data may help explain why some reports found an association between lower-rated nursing homes and COVID-19 outbreaks (a conclusion that guided early enforcement actions against nursing homes), while others did not. Our data, which we have made publicly available, also offer the ability to credibly study the associations of facility responses and state and federal policy in the early months of the pandemic with slowing the spread in nursing homes, which is not possible with the federal data owing to missing data … These findings suggest that federal NHSN data understate total COVID-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes and that using these data without accounting for this issue may result in misleading conclusions about the determinants of nursing home outbreaks.”


If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) while a resident of a nursing home in the United States due to an infection acquired in a nursing home such as COVID-19, nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, nursing home abuse, or nursing home fraud, you should promptly contact a local nursing home claim attorney in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and file a nursing home claim on your behalf, if appropriate.

Visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers (nursing home claim lawyers) in your U.S. state who may assist you with your nursing home claim, or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959.

Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 29th, 2021 at 5:25 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


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