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Bad CDC Data May Have Skewed Research

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, October 29, 2012

They might be zombies.

A commonly used database run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is fraught with serious errors, some of which indicate that patients were impossibly pronounced dead in the emergency department, but then intubated and admitted to the intensive care unit the same day, according to a Loma Linda University report.

In fact, the study, which looked at 10 years' worth of CDC data, found that one in four emergency room patients who were reported as being intubated—which in virtually all cases would be followed by death, admission to a critical care unit, transfer to another facility, or transfer to surgery or a catheterization lab—was instead reportedly discharged or referred to a non-critical care bed.

"A patient who is having a piece of plastic inserted down their windpipe is very, very sick," says Steven Green, MD, Loma Linda University School of Medicine professor in California and the author of an Annals of Emergency Medicinestudy documenting the inconsistencies. "These aren't the kind of patients, except in very rare situations, who would be discharged from the hospital."

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