The news regarding the numbers of elderly falling ill or dying from COVID-19 continues to climb. But the question remains: How much is it rising? According to a news report, the data documented by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid do not align. Nor do these numbers seem to match the information provided by staff at eldercare facilities.
For example, on July 14, the state reported (9,220 total cases) 2,063 more nursing home residents contracting the virus than the federal agency (7,157 cases). Texas also reported 1,173 total deaths while the federal agency reported 954 deaths, for a difference of 219 fatalities.
Facilities are required to report their confirmed cases data to the local, state and federal agencies as well as to residents and family members. Slight discrepancies are understandable, but not thousands of reported cases and hundreds of deaths.
Reasons for the discrepancy include data entry error and how quickly information is updated. Instead of a conspiracy or coverup, state officials say these are honest errors for the most part.
Some nursing home advocates also complain of overreporting, and overly complicated reporting slows down the process.
“Facilities literally have to report to umpteen different entities,” said George Linial, President & CEO of senior-living advocacy group LeadingAge Texas. “Most of the family members of the residents have been notified, so the fact that these have been made public… I don’t know if it’s actually done anything.”
Little comfort to families
The families and loved ones deserve accurate information. Despite the above quote, eldercare facilities need to be held accountable for their work, which is reflected in the reporting.
Those who feel like they are not getting the full story may want to speak with a personal injury attorney with experience handling elder abuse cases and wrongful death. These legal professionals can help get answers as they hold the residencies accountable.