Houston hospitals stop reporting coronavirus-related data after reaching base ICU capacity: report

Source: The Hill | June 28, 2020 | John Bowden

Data released by a major Houston hospital system no longer includes information about the hospital system’s intensive care unit (ICU) capacity, a change reportedly made just a day after it previously was updated to show the hospitals reaching 100 percent base capacity due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Charts updated daily by the Texas Medical Center (TMC), a hospital system with locations in downtown Houston, contained a warning as of Sunday that an “upward trajectory of new daily cases” was continuing, and indicated that the surge in patients to the ICU “supports future ICU resource planning.” However, no indications of when the hospital system would reach capacity were available.

“Currently TMC institutions are able to serve all patients requiring intensive care,” the documents read, alongside a note indicating a 5-percent average growth of coronavirus patients requiring admittance to the ICU. No other information on when the TMC would reach ICU capacity was publicly available.

The Houston Chronicle reported that the data was altered to exclude this information after Saturday’s update indicated that Houston ICUs would reach “unsustainable surge capacity” by July 6.

The Chronicle also reported that the change occurred after a conversation “between Gov. Greg Abbott [R] and hospital executives in which the governor expressed displeasure with negative headlines about ICU capacity.”

A spokesperson for Abbott’s office denied to the Chronicle that the governor’s office had asked for hospitals to provide less data about ICU capacity.

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