Dr. Brufsky on Case Ascertainment Bias With COVID-19


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Adam M. Brufsky, MD, PhD, discusses case ascertainment bias regarding the coronavirus 2019.

Adam M. Brufsky, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and associate chief in the Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, medical director, Magee-Women’s Cancer Program, co-director of the Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center, and associate director for Clinical Investigations at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Hillman Cancer Center, discusses case ascertainment bias regarding the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

Going forward, it is important to think about case ascertainment bias with regard to COVID-19, says Brufsky. The virus is currently being detected is through individuals who present at the emergency room with shortness of breath, fever, and have pulmonary infiltrates on an X-ray.

There are not enough testing kits for everyone, which means there are likely many asymptomatic patients with COVID-19 who are not being tested, says Brufsky. The more asymptomatic patients that are identified, the more likely the death rate associated with the virus will decrease. Currently, the death rate is between 1% and 3%, but it could potentially decrease to the death rate associated with the flu, predicts Brufsky.

Due to the risks of COVID-19 for patients with cancer, the restrictions preventing medical professionals from gathering in large groups is reasonable, says Brufsky. However, there is a case ascertainment bias, which is being discussed on a national level, adds Brufsky.

Currently, a good deal remains unknown about COVID-19, but as more information comes to light, the death rate will hopefully begin to decrease, concludes Brufsky.

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