Germany: Fraud allegations against intensive care units

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, politicians and hospitals have been warning of a patient overload in intensive care units in Germany. A research team led by Matthias Schrappe has now presented an explosive paper. Schrappe, a medical doctor and economist doubts the “honesty” of the number of Coronavirus cases.

The physician and health economist Prof. Dr. Schrappe has been critical of the German government’s Corona policy since April 2020. Together with eight other scientists, he published an explosive paper reported German daily Die Welt on Sunday: This suggests that there has been manipulation of official statistics, subsidy fraud and dubious use of funds.

Die Welt interviewed health economist Matthias Schrappe after the release of the study in which he criticized the inconsistencies in the handling of state subsidies by German hospitals.

As most clinics are now private, it is logical that their financial health comes before the health of their patients. But the research by Schrappe and his team contains other explosive revelations.

Patients who actually never had to be admitted to an intensive care unit were still transferred to the intensive care unit because there is simply more money at stake if this is the case. At the same time, intensive care beds were phased out because there is more money to be made when an intensive care unit is overloaded. In short: In Germany there has never been a shortage of intensive care units.

Unsurprisingly the statements by Matthias Schrappe and colleagues have caused outrage. The German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) eV, the Marburger Bund Bundesverband and the German Hospital Society (DKG) “strongly reject the misleading allegations of playing with fear, the manipulation of official statistics and even the allegation of treating patients in intensive care purely for financial reasons”.

Schrappe has stood by his claim that the hospitals wrongly collected funding for intensive care beds.

Nine scientists have supported Schrappe with re-evaluated data on intensive care care during the Corona pandemic and also published their results in an ad hoc statement on Sunday.

In their studies, the scientists focused, for example, on acute inpatient care, the equipment with intensive care beds in an international comparison or the availability of intensive care capacity. The Hamburg forensic doctor Klaus Püschel and the Bremen general practitioner Matthias Gruhl were also involved.

“The improvement in the general data on the prognosis of the infection (average age, hospitalization, lethality), however, raises doubts about a relevant deterioration in intensive care,” the researchers explained in their summary.

“Looking back, question marks arise as to whether the game was being played honestly,” said Schrappe.

In addition, it was now clear: “The fear of scarce intensive care capacities or triage was unfounded”. However, it was precisely this fear that had been conveyed by politicians. And it is also clear that many decision-makers must have been aware of this during the entire course of the pandemic, Schrappe highlighted.

Even at the peak of all three “waves”, more than 25 percent of the intensive care beds were never occupied by Covid patients. Germany also has the most intensive care beds in Europe and is at the top worldwide. “You can say pretty much anything about the German health system – except that we don’t have enough inpatient and intensive care capacities.”

In addition, there are 11 000 beds in Germany as an emergency reserve. They were never set up and never put into operation. And although the federal government had given half a billion euros to finance the construction of additional intensive capacities, these beds apparently did not even exist. “Obviously, they were never created or applied for,” the doctor said.

Even the story that there were too few nurses could not be true. According to data from the Federal Employment Agency, there has never been a decline in the number of caregivers, but a substantial increase of 43 000 people in 2020 alone. The months of November and December have not yet been included.

There has even been a tendency in hospitals to transfer patients to intensive care units without an emergency during the pandemic. “Based on the seven-day reporting rate, nowhere else in the world have so many Covid patients been treated in intensive care units as we have.” At the end of April 2021, for example, 61 percent of Covid patients were treated in intensive care units in hospitals. In comparison, according to Schrappe, it was only 25 percent in Switzerland and eleven percent in Italy.

The scientist also expressed doubts about the targeted, adequate use of resources. The research by the scientists also revealed that on individual days there were officially more patients in intensive care than were hospitalized. “Strange, incomprehensible things are happening”, Schrappe summarized the situation.

The scientists received encouragement for their report, for example, from the professor of public finance at Leibniz Universität Hannover, Stefan Homburg. “The wave is rolling: This current article also deals with the problem of faked numbers and speaks of subsidy fraud. Corona is gradually turning out to be the only self-service shop.”

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