Covid-19: Delay in disclosing over 200 Mater cases due to ‘data uploading issue’, HSE says

Paul Reid says the hospital met the legal requirement to report coronavirus data

A spokeswoman for the Mater said at all times the hospital had ‘provided the information that the HSE required and met all legal requirements to report infectious diseases’. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

A spokeswoman for the Mater said at all times the hospital had ‘provided the information that the HSE required and met all legal requirements to report infectious diseases’. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The belated disclosure of more than 200 positive Covid-19 cases at the Mater hospital arose from a “data uploading issue”, according to the HSE.

The hospital has met the legal requirement to report coronavirus data and contact tracing for the cases has been completed, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said on Sunday in relation to the issue.

Last Thursday, it emerged that a then unidentified hospital was responsible for more than 200 new coronavirus cases notified by the National Public Health Emergency Team on that day. Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the cases dated back to mid-March and he was unable to give an assurance that contact tracing for the cases had been completed.

On Friday, The Irish Times revealed the hospital involved was the Mater, but that it insisted it had fully reported the cases, which involved staff at the facility.

The HSE commissioned a report into the matter, a draft of which has found that the information from the hospital that was submitted to labs during the process did not have full details – including full names of cases.

‘’Therefore it did not allow the HSE to compile a complete correlation of the data at the appropriate time,’’ Mr Reid said.

HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry has sought assurances from all hospitals that the data submitted to labs is complete “with the full and required details”.

The Irish Times understands that since the Aids era in the 1980s, the Mater has had protocols requiring the anonymisation of healthcare staff data that is reported nationally.

Daily updates

During the Covid-19 outbreak, the hospital provided HSE infectious disease surveillance staff with daily updates of staff and patient cases, and specific information from its occupational health department about staff cases.

However, the staff data could not be uploaded to the CIDR system used by the HSE for disease surveillance because personal details were anonymised. The hospital stopped filing the specific staff case data after being requested to do so, but continued to file the more general information about staff and patient cases.

It then resumed filing the staff data last week, when the 244 cases were bulk reported.

The hospital and the HSE are working on a technical solution to resolve the issue and sources said this should be in place this week.

The Mater, which is the main infectious diseases hospital in the State, insists it has complied with all its reporting requirements, though it says the data may not have been “accurately captured”.

Currently, the HSE is performing an average of 4,000 tests for Covid-19 per day. Chief operations officer Anne O’Connor said a testing sweep in nursing homes and mental health units has been completed.

Numbers of new Covid-19 cases peaked on April 15th, when 1,068 new cases were reported. The number of new cases each day has been below 200 for the last week, with the exception of May 13th, when 426 cases were recorded, though most of them were the historical cases from the Mater hospital.

The 244 cases from the occupational health department of the Mater cover the period March 16th to May 12th, according to an internal Department of Health note.