Sask. Health Authority inaccurately reported COVID-19 hospitalization data, province says

The Saskatchewan Health Authority has informed the provincial government of a discrepancy in hospitalization numbers, which lead to inaccurate data on the province’s COVID-19 dashboard and in daily press releases.

"This is not acceptable, the public of Saskatchewan expect and deserve accurate public reporting of our COVID data and Dr. Shahab requires accurate data to inform his direction and recommendations to government,” said Health Minister Paul Merriman. “We have come up short."

According to a press release from the government, data reported on Wednesday showed there were 166 COVID-19 patients in hospital, with 23 in the ICU. On Thursday, the government corrected that data to 192 in hospital, including 33 people in the ICU.

The SHA said the discrepancies were a result of how COVID-19 patients receiving intensive care in a surge bed outside of an intensive care unit were recorded.

"The SHA takes full responsibility for this error in reporting. There were a number of factors that contributed to this, one [of the] biggest ones is the designation of patients that have been moved into those temporary ICU beds on other wards. Those weren’t being counted as ICU admissions," said SHA CEO Scott Livingstone.

It is unclear how long the hospitalization numbers were inaccurate. During the COVID-19 update Thursday, the government said the discrepancies began when hospitals moved to surge capacity, but failed to give an exact date.

Merriman said he met with Livingstone to express his “disappointment and concern over this error.”

Livingstone said the reporting error did not impact the care patients received.

According to Merriman, the updated data doesn’t change the recent decisions the government has made around public health measures.

"In speaking to Dr. Shahab…we’re still very comfortable with the decisions that have happened over the last little while," he said.

RECORD-HIGH HOSPITALIZATIONS

With 192 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Thursday, Saskatchewan is pushing closer to the 200 mark heading into Easter weekend.

The province first broke 200 hospitalizations in late January. The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital peaked the first week of February at 238. The greatest number of hospitalizations were in Saskatoon then.

Now, Regina is seeing record-breaking numbers. The zone is the first to surpass 100 people in hospital since the pandemic began. As of Thursday, 101 people are in hospital with COVID-19, including 23 people in the ICU.

As variant cases grow and the rate of vaccination increases for older people, more young people are catching COVID-19 and ending up in hospital – and in the ICU.

On Thursday afternoon, there are 34 people in intensive care across the province; 17 of those people are age 60 and younger, including two people in their 30s and one person younger than 20.