Internal reporting of coronavirus deaths at a north-east health board has been changed.

NHS Grampian issues its Covid-19 statistics to staff members daily on weekdays, including the number of deaths that have been recorded of those with a positive coronavirus test.

Until this week, it has been recording the deaths of all those who had been in hospital with Covid-19 and were subsequently discharged but died at home at a later date as a hospital coronavirus death.

It has apologised for the error, and will no longer record those who have died at home in its hospital death statistics.

As a result, deaths in hospital from coronavirus recorded since the start of the pandemic dropped from 122 to 101.

Death certification remains the official method of recording deaths and methods of internal reporting has no affect on this.

An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: “The definitions for Covid-19 care were developed at the start of the pandemic. Since then, the reporting of positive cases in hospital, understanding nosocomial transmission, readmissions and deaths have all become increasingly complicated as the virus situation has unfolded.

“National guidance has not been specific enough to avoid some potential inconsistencies in reporting between boards. This has most recently been noted in the way boards report numbers of Covid-19 patients in hospital.

“A query has been raised asking about the difference between the number of Covid-19 related deaths reported by Scottish Government and NHS Grampian. The main reason for this is due to differences in definitions where Scottish Government classify a Covid-19 related death as someone who has died within 28 days of a positive test. We report a Covid death if a patient dies and they have been admitted at any point in the past with a previous positive test result.”

Deaths of those with a positive case outside hospitals are captured through National Records of Scotland, and are not associated with hospital deaths.

The Scottish Government does not use internal statistics from NHS health boards in its official data published each day, however instead uses lab results and death certification data.

The spokeswoman added: “Patients who died within 28 days of testing positive will be included as Covid-19 deaths in national figures from National Records Scotland. However, they should not have been shown as a death in hospital in our briefs – that is an error on our part and we apologise.

“This affects our internal method of reporting Covid-19 deaths only – it does not change the information contained on death certification, which is the standard, official method of reporting deaths.”


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