“We were motivated to get information and results out as quickly as we could to help others manage these patients,” Davidson said.

At some point during the review process, JAMA asked Northwell to add the mortality-rate figures, Davidson said. After the report was published, though, the journal said in a statement that its editors asked the Northwell authors to clarify the data, resulting in the revision. Davidson said Northwell initiated the clarification.

Typically, researchers would wait for more-complete data before putting out mortality rates in such a study. But in this case, with the need to publish Covid-19 data quickly, Northwell researchers didn’t yet know the fate of most patients. Of the 1,151 put on ventilators as of April 4, the outcome for only 320 was known at the time of publication: 38 were discharged alive and 282 died — that’s an 88% death rate.

The rate was more or less consistent with some reports from China and elsewhere among Covid-19 patients requiring ventilation. Still, the release sparked backlash.

“It’s irresponsible to publish this kind of misleading mortality data prematurely,” Robert Dickson, a critical-care doctor at the University of Michigan’s medical center wrote in a tweet the day after the study was released. “The take-away: ‘88% mortality among ventilated patients!’ — is absolutely going to inform goals-of-care discussions around the world. This sloppiness has consequences. It’s maddening.”

Northwell authors published their clarification the next day. They removed the 88% figure from the paper’s abstract and added new language to the conclusion that noted doctors expect the ventilator mortality rate to decline as more complete results roll in.

Northwell said it expects to have 30-day-follow-up data providing a clearer picture on all the ventilated patients in the study sometime in May.

Thihs article was provided by Bloomberg News.

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