State admits errors in nursing home fatality numbers

There are more than 4,500 deaths of nursing home and assisted living facility residents attributed to the COVID-19. But a data entry error by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) was discovered last month, indicating that the state was not providing accurate numbers throughout the summer. Families of deceased residents noticed the error and alerted officials when they noticed that the facility where the dead family member lived showed zero deaths. When asked, the facility director claimed that they had followed all protocols and notified the HHSC.

This led to a television news program to dig deeper into the matter. The HHSC claims that it was human error amidst all the other data it compiles daily.  A spokesman said there was no excuse for the mistake, and the HHSC would rectify the error.

Families trying to make decisions

Families with loved ones in these facilities try to make the right decisions about where the elderly parent lives. The number of resident deaths due to COVID is an important piece of information in making decisions. Moreover, some are upset that their deceased parent is not accounted for, thus literally unacknowledged by the state. The error may also impact the decision of loved ones who visit these facilities, exposing themselves to a dangerous environment they thought was safe.

According to a daughter who lost her mother, “Lives literally hinge on this data, so if they cannot get this accurate and display a clear, concise picture — a credible picture — of this data, you just throw your hands up and go, ‘What’s the point?’”

Impacts decisions resources

This underreporting is upsetting to families, but it also prevents the state from allocating appropriate levels of resources for testing and other medical decisions. It also leads one to wonder if the facilities are providing the care they claim. Families with questions or concerns regarding an elderly relative’s care may need to consult with a San Antonio personal injury attorney who handles disputes with elder care facilities.


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