Deaths incorrectly attributed to COVID-19 in Palm Beach County
[CBS affiliate, West Palm Beach, FL] A 60-year-old man who died from a gun shot wound to the head.
| Good to see the workload has reduced enough that they can start cleaning up the data. |
A 90-year-old man who fell and died from complications of a hip fracture.
A 77-year-old woman who died of Parkinson's disease.
These are some of the deaths in Palm Beach County recently, and incorrectly, attributed to COVID-19 in medical examiner records.
The CBS12 News I-Team uncovered several examples in Medical Examiner reports of people counted as a COVID death who did not die of COVID.
We requested a list of all COVID-19 deaths in Palm Beach County from the Medical Examiner's office and received a spread sheet of 581 cases.
Each person on the spreadsheet is someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
In each case line, the person's cause of death and contributing causes of death are listed, if there are any.
The I-Team found eight cases in which a person was counted as a COVID death, but did not have COVID listed as a cause of contributing cause of death.
"I think it is completely misleading," said Rachel Eade, a Palm Beach County resident who has been researching the same issue.
"We need to remove those cases that are not COVID exclusive, and we need to be giving people that information," said Eade, who is one of the plaintiffs suing Palm Beach County for its mask mandate.
She said of the 581 deaths on the spreadsheet, only 169 deaths are listed as COVID without any contributing factors.
Governor Ron DeSantis said in a recent appearance on Fox News that his office is aware of deaths incorrectly attributed to COVID-19, like the case of a man in Orange County who died in a motorcycle crash, but was listed as a COVID death.
"I think the public, when they see the fatality figures, they want to know who died because they caught COVID," said DeSantis.
"If you're just in a car accident - and we have had other instances where there is no real relationship and it's been counted, we want to look at that and see how pervasive that issue is as well."
The I-Team took our findings to the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's office, and Operations Manager Paul Petrino said the eight we flagged were in fact errors, and should not have been on their spreadsheet.
He said office is in the process of removing them.
We asked Petrino if these erroneous deaths were reported to the state Department of Health and counted toward official COVID death counts, and he said the DOH should have caught the mistakes and not included them.
Posted by: Clem 2020-07-25