Cause of death is not arbitrary

Shirley Dillaman

Wolf Creek Township

In the last month I have heard the following story from five different people:

“A friend of mine, whose daughter is a nurse, says that people who die from various diseases, in the hospital, are listed as COVID-19 deaths in order for the hospital to get more money.”

I was skeptical the first time I heard it, but by the fifth time, I was convinced that it is just one more unsubstantiated internet tale, propagated by people who feel that the COVID-19 count is being inflated. First let me say that any doctor who knowingly misrepresents the cause of death of a patient, and signs a death certificate to that effect, would be fired and have his medical license revoked.

The controversy seems to arise from the issue that some people feel that if a patient, generally elderly, happens to have a serious condition that would in the near future perhaps bring about their demise, and if said person contracts COVID-19 and dies, that one shouldn’t say the cause of death was COVID-19 because the person would have died anyway due to the underlying cause. They hold to that rationale even if the patient died in the hospital on a ventilator.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that a person has cancer or heart disease, or a similar dastardly disease that will likely bring about their death within months, and let’s say that said person goes out for a drive and is hit by an 18-wheeler and killed. What should the cause of death be listed as? Obviously, the cause of death was the car accident. Other co-morbidities such as heart disease may well exist, but that does not change the actual cause. The cause of death is not arbitrary. There are strict rules governing its determination.

This example is just one of hundreds of unfounded stories, i.e. lies, that are being read and believed by thousands of people, and they may well influence peoples’ votes. Please check the sources of the information that you read or hear before you pass it on to others. The results of misinformation may very well determine our election and ultimately destroy our democracy.

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