As many as one in three people with coronavirus in hospital were originally admitted for a different health condition, medical staff have told Nieuwsuur.
Ger Sieders, of the UMC Groningen’s capacity team, has said the government should change the way it compiles the figures to distinguish people who are seriously ill with Covid-19 from those who test positive while on the ward.
Under the current guidelines all patients who test positive for the virus must be kept in isolation and until recently operations had to be postponed if a patient became infected.
The health ministry said the distinction between patients who are admitted for coronavirus and those who acquire it in hospital is ‘not relevant’ because the isolation rules apply to all.
But with vaccines and wider testing now available, Sieders has called for the rules to be reviewed.
‘At the moment we have six patients in the hospital who are being treated for something else but have tested positive,’ he said. ‘We expect this is going to happen more often, that we will take in people who are infected.’
The UMCG is one of the few hospitals that routinely screens all patients for coronavirus, whether or not they have symptoms.
UMCG microbiologist Marjolein Knoester said more comprehensive testing gave the hospital a more accurate idea of the infection level, but risked distorting the overall numbers.
‘Most hospitals don’t screen like we do, so the Covid patients in the numbers are often people who are seriously ill,’ she said. ‘I’m also appealing for this information to be given separately.’
The national patient distribution centre LCPS said it was in favour of harmonising testing policy. ‘With the rapidly rising infection figures, in which not everyone who is infected has symptoms, it makes sense to agree on rules for the entire healthcare chain, not just in hospitals.’
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