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Dutch GPs devise system to count hidden corona deaths

Dutch GPs devise system to count hidden corona deaths

Dutch GPs devise system to count hidden corona deaths

GPs in the Netherlands have devised a system to count the “hidden” corona deaths in the Netherlands. RIVM only reports the deaths of those who have been tested and officially diagnosed with coronavirus, but many more people suffer from the virus and die as a result.

Hidden coronavirus deaths are to be registered by GPs

GPs have long been emphasising that there are many more deaths from coronavirus than are reported and RIVM confirms that there is under-reporting of the actual numbers of deaths as not everyone is tested.

From this week on, GPs can register patients who have not been tested and who have died of coronavirus or who have suffered from it. Deaths can also be added retroactively. This is good news because the number of tests in the Netherlands is not representative of the real number of people with the virus or dying from it.

The Consortium of General Practitioners has asked GPs in the Netherlands to report patients that they suspect have died of coronavirus on the referral website, Zorgdomein, which is used by the majority of general practitioners in the Netherlands.

More Covid-19 patients exist than the statistics show

"We see a huge number of patients at home and in care centres that are clinically highly suspected to have coronavirus, but are not being tested because hospitalisation no longer makes sense," says Dr Jochen Cals, general practitioner and professor of general practice at Maastricht University. "These people don't exist in statistics."

The registration of these patients will give GPs a better overview of vulnerable patients who are not being sent to hospital. This includes both patients living in their own homes and those who are in nursing homes and smaller residential care homes that do not have nurses working there.

It has not been ascertained if all GPs in the Netherlands will be on board for this new system of registering patients.  According to Dr Jochen Cals: "If 50 percent of the general practitioners participate, we can get a realistic picture of the number of deaths in the Netherlands."

Figures are expected to be reported next week

The first figures in this new reporting system are expected next week. It will give a much more complete view of the coronavirus figures and it will help policymakers make more informed decisions regarding the relaxing of social-distancing measures. The RIVM and the House of Representatives are in agreement that the system is a good idea.

Rachel Deloughry

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Rachel Deloughry

Rachel is a writer, editor and digital content creator, passionate about the arts, culture and lifestyle.

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