Saturday, April 11, 2020

Are Medical Errors Being Classified As COVID Deaths?

Many years ago, one of my responsibilities working for a medical device manufacturer was to investigate deaths and serious injuries associated with our hemodialysis machines in accordance with the FDA’s Medical Device Reporting (MDR) requirement.

Sometimes deaths were due to instrument failures, but more frequently they were caused by a human error or instrument misuse. I investigated one such case where a string of patient deaths occurred in a relatively short period of time at a particular chain of dialysis centers. All the deaths occurred during or shortly after the dialysis treatment.

At one of the clinics where three deaths were reported, I met with the CEO/owner of the dialysis center chain. He was also its Chief Nephrologist. In examining the machines, I noticed that every blood pump had been cranked up to maximum speed. I reported this to him, mentioning that some dialysis patients cannot tolerate the high blood flow rate, particularly those with heart disease. All of the patients who died had a history of coronary problems.

An unfortunate trend was growing at the time toward “rapid dialysis”, where the treatments were shortened and sped up in order to treat more patients per day, thereby increasing dialysis center
profits (and shortening patients’ lives). The CEO shrugged off my concern, saying he had already signed their death certificates, listing “natural causes” as cause of death.

As Chief Nephrologist, no one would question his word. Dialysis patients are very frail, their kidney failure almost always associated with chronic comorbidities such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. I reported the deaths to the FDA as “operator misuse”, but that was as far as it would go. “Rapid dialysis” was a recognized prescribed treatment, and the FDA does not regulate the professional judgment of physicians. (Subsequent clinical studies have discouraged this treatment practice.)

Similarly, there are no checks or balances on the reporting of deaths attributed to COVID-19, a.k.a. the Wuhan Flu. No test for the virus is required as verification to the cause of death listed on each death certificate. The physician’s word and signature are all that are required.

The incentives and potential for abuse of this practice are tremendous. “Medical errors” is the third largest cause of death in the United States, right after heart disease and cancer. Coincidentally, cardiologists are reporting an amazing 40% to 60% reduction in heart disease so far this year, with deaths plummeting.

There are normally over 600,000 deaths due to heart disease each year and only 17,000 deaths so far from COVID. If this reduction holds true we should see a huge decrease in the overall US death rate and a dramatic rise in life expectancy this year. And yet pundits in the leftist media are spreading panic about supposed body bag shortages and mass graves being dug. The truth will soon become apparent, assuming the data is not corrupt. But data corruption could be happening.

With thousands of new ventilators arriving a hospitals, some made in China and others made in automobile factories, the odds of instrument failures from manufacturing issues and errors by poorly-trained operators are greatly increased. Normally, the death rate for patients on ventilators is 40% to 50%. New York City hospitals are currently reporting an 80% death rate on ventilators. Can this difference be entirely attributable to the virus? That is highly doubtful. Having also investigated patient deaths while being treated on ventilators, I can attest that many are caused by instrument failure and operator error.

The normally high incidence of medical errors, many resulting in malpractice lawsuits, is exacerbated by the pandemic crisis. With the urgent requirement for additional medical equipment, doctors, nurses, and medical technicians, combined with the compressed time for adequate training, the number of errors should be significantly increasing. It will be interesting to see if this is reflected in the statistics, or if it mysteriously declines like the rate of heart disease deaths this year.

Increased incentive to misdiagnose is provided by Medicare, which pays hospitals an additional $13,000 for each COVID-19 patient, and an additional $39,000 per COVID-19 patient on a ventilator. Physicians are being officially coached in writing by HHS on how to fill out death certificates indicating the COVID virus as the cause of death with no physical evidence required.

The temptations loom large for physicians to fudge or outright falsify death certificates, blaming the COVID virus to hide malpractice and medical errors. The chances of getting caught and punished are minuscule to none.

In any profession, there are those who are ethically-challenged. But doctors who intentionally falsify death certificates are not only artificially inflating the COVID death rate, they are participating in the killing of America by helping prolong the shut-down.

Andrew Thomas

No comments:

Post a Comment