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Experts find alarming errors in DOH patient data
While the DOH has been open to feedback and has improved in data reporting, the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team said certain issues such as inconsistencies and mismatch remain unaddressed.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, file

Experts find alarming errors in DOH patient data

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - May 13, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Experts from the University of the Philippines have discovered “alarming errors” in the data released by the Department of Health (DOH) on coronavirus patients.

While the DOH has been open to feedback and has improved in data reporting, the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team said certain issues such as inconsistencies and mismatch remain unaddressed.

“The availability of accurate and relevant data is a basic requirement in managing any situation that requires urgent and targeted response. Almost three months since we had our first confirmed case in the person of a Chinese national on 30 January, we have yet to reconcile differences in numbers between DOH and local government unit sources,” read the team’s latest policy note.

“Accuracy, however, goes beyond correctness in reporting aggregate numbers. Recent data drops by DOH revealed a number of alarming patient-level inconsistencies, if not gross errors,” it added.

For instance, comparison of the data released on April 24 and 25 showed that the gender of 45 patients changed, while 75 had the data on their age modified.

The team also noted changes in residence data in 516 cases, as well as one patient who was initially reported dead but this was changed the following day.

“There are other troubling anomalies in recent data drops of DOH. For example, 18 cases no longer have data on residence in the April 25 update. On the same date, the recovery dates of two cases were either missing or changed,” it added.

There were also discrepancies in the DOH data with the local government count, such as in Laguna that has seven deaths and 28 recoveries as of May 3 in the official national government data.

Provincial data showed that there were 29 deaths and 93 recoveries on the same day.

The UP team also noted inconsistencies in data variables, such as date format and the regional code based on the Philippine Standard Geographic Code.

“These lapses may seem small relative to the total size of data contained in the daily updates, but they have significant implications on the reliability of our scientific analyses on COVID-19,” read the policy note.

“Patient case data is the keystone for effective and insightful metrics and analysis,” it added.

The team recognized difficulties in the collection of detailed and timely records of COVID-19 data on a nationwide scale.

However, it said the problems need to be addressed at the soonest possible time as it is important to have relevant and accurate data in responding to the pandemic.

“The speed and timeliness of how such is released is equally critical,” the experts said. “It is important to make sure that correct data is captured as swiftly as possible to minimize uploading of erroneous and anomalous, if not missing, data.”

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