At least 10,000 patients contracted COVID-19 in the hospital last year, analysis finds

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At least 10,000 patients in the U.S. were diagnosed with COVID-19 in a hospital after being admitted for something else, according to an analysis of federal and state records completed for Kaiser Health News and published Nov. 4. 

Of those who contracted COVID-19 in the hospital from April to September last year, about 21 percent died, according to the report. 

These figures are "certainly an undercount," as they mostly include patients aged 65 and older, and California and Florida patients of all ages, KHN reported. 

At the same time, the analysis found nearly 8 percent of other Medicare patients — who didn't contract COVID-19 — died in the hospital. 

Overall, about 1.7 percent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients were diagnosed with the virus in U.S. hospitals on average, according to a data analysis provided to KHN by James Kennedy, MD, founder of Nashville, Tenn.-based data analytics company CDIMD. 

In 38 of the hospitals included in the analysis, at least 5 percent of Medicare COVID-19 cases were documented as hospital-acquired. 

KHN reviewed work-safety records and medical literature and conducted staff interviews at hospitals with high infection rates. The publication concluded that hospital leaders' slow response to the virus's airborne nature and failure to test every admitted patient ultimately enabled in-hospital spread.


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