Massachusetts hospitals to distinguish between primary, incidental COVID-19 admissions in reporting

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Later this month, hospitals in Massachusetts will begin adjusting their reporting on COVID-19 hospitalizations to distinguish between how many patients are admitted for the virus as their primary condition and how many are primarily admitted for other ailments and incidentally test positive, according to The Boston Globe.

The state public health department announced the move Jan. 6. 

Massachusetts hospitals currently count "with COVID-19" and "for COVID-19" admissions as part of its virus hospitalization totals, the Globe reported. However, state officials asked hospitals to begin distinguishing between the two, effective Jan. 10. New daily COVID-19 hospitalization rates in the U.S. have risen 65 percent over the last two weeks, with Massachusetts seeing a 64 percent increase during that time period, according to HHS data tracked by The New York Times. 

The change in Massachusetts comes as some hospitals in the U.S. see more incidental COVID-19 admissions compared with primary COVID-19 admissions. 

Shira Doron, MD, an infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at Boston-based Tufts Medical Center, told the Globe on Jan. 6 that understanding what proportion of patients are in one group of admissions versus the other will help shed light on how the virus is affecting hospital capacity.

"If a person is in the hospital because they slipped on a banana peel, they're going to be there regardless of what you do to prevent COVID," she told the newspaper. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also asked hospitals in her state to adjust their reporting on COVID-19 hospitalizations beginning Jan. 4 to distinguish between the two types of admissions.

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