CHARLESTON – A new electronic death reporting system will be implemented in West Virginia to prevent the underreporting of COVID-19-related deaths.
Governor Jim Justice said during his pandemic briefing on Wednesday that West Virginia is one of the few states that does not have such a system, and an investigation has shown the more than 200 deaths from COVID that occurred in December and January but not reported at the time were due to a faulty reporting system.
Justice said there was no “will and intent” involved in the failure to report and “no one was doing something intentionally.”
“Due to the delay in preparing, submitting and issuing a death certificate in West Virginia, it is not possible today to use a death certificate to report a death related to COVID in near real time. 19 “, he said. “But all of that has to be changed, and we have to do it now.”
Justice said the old death reporting system was working properly before the COVID crisis.
“We probably didn’t need this in West Virginia until we got into this pandemic,” he said. “But now that we are in this situation, our employees at DHHR should have recognized it and moved. They haven’t moved and I’m not happy with that. But I can tell you that it is clear that there was no intention to report incorrect data… DHHR, like many things… lived in the Dark Ages and is moving far too slowly.
Justice on Wednesday read the age, sex and country of origin of 35 new unreported COVID deaths, in addition to the 185 previously found.
The problem emerged earlier this month in a data analysis that matched death certificates with death reports, another form that needed to be completed but was not in these cases. Analysis of the data revealed 165 unreported COVID deaths.
The underreporting involved about 70 hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities in 30 counties.
A team of state epidemiologists has been dispatched to investigate.
Public health official Dr Ayne Amjad said at the time that it was a ‘quality assurance’ process and was done manually with death certificates and death reports. . The main reason for the undercoverage is the failure of these facilities around the state to file these death reports.
Amjad said the manual process led by the “epi team” was deliberate as they cross-checked the data.
“Right now it’s a matter of checking the records,” she said, and whether the deaths have been reported. “We want to make sure these are checked accurately. “
“They will go through all death certificates with the establishments,” she said, and there have already been “a lot of phone calls” with these establishments involved and a lot of concern has been expressed by the staff of establishments.
“Everyone wants to do the right thing,” she said. “Everyone wants to report accurately. “
Amjad said more detailed information about what happened and how it happened will be released once the findings are finalized.
The investigation was completed last week and the results released on Wednesday, prompting the justice system to act.
“We are calling on the National Guard to solve this problem and get it right,” he said. “I am as disappointed as you can be… there is no reason for that.”
Amjad said on Wednesday it was about choosing the system and implementing it as soon as possible.
No cost estimate is yet available for the new electronic system that will be used statewide.
Contact Charles Boothe at [email protected]