Number of COVID hospitalizations decreases in AZ, but why?

Posted at 8:00 AM, Oct 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-06 11:32:54-04

PHOENIX — On Monday, the state COVID-19 dashboard put the number of hospitalizations in Arizona at 22,303.

On Tuesday morning, the number of hospitalizations has been revised down to 19,987. That is 2,815 less than the day before.

The Arizona Department of Health Services told ABC 15 that this considerable decrease in hospitalization numbers is due to one of the state’s major hospital systems inadvertently counting positive COVID-19 tests originated from urgent care facilities as being hospitalized.

The state’s health infrastructure uses a patient care database called MEDSIS to manage and report COVID-19 patient information. Included in the available data entry fields is an “admit date” that is used to track when a COVID-19 patient is admitted to a patient care facility. The Arizona Department of Health Services COVID-19 reporting dashboard is designed to look for data in the “admit date” field and add a hospitalization record if it exists.

The removal of the records also changes the picture of what the pandemic has looked like in Arizona’s hospitals.

State health officials say the error was discovered a few weeks ago and staff has been working with the hospital system to sort out hospitalizations from urgent care visits since then.

A blog post from State Health Director Cara Christ explains the error in more detail here.