State Public Health Officials To Examine Heat-Related Deaths
The Department of Public Health on Thursday announced that it will conduct a statistical study of deaths attributed to a July 2006 heat wave to determine whether the toll is higher than officially reported, the AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The announcement comes one week after a six-month Associated Press investigation found the number of victims might have been three times higher than state officials reported.
State health officials, however, said their study was scheduled before the AP's report. The study is scheduled to begin in late 2008.
The announcements came during a Senate Governmental Organization Committee hearing about the two-week heat wave. State officials reported 143 deaths, but the AP analysis suggests that officials undercounted the death toll by more than 320, according to health and statistics experts.
The AP gathered its data independently from county coroners, registrars and health officials.
Janet Huston, DPH associate director, said it is uncertain how long the study will take but that the department plans to track deaths by age, gender and disease. The study also will investigate any spike in the overall death toll during that period (Thompson, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/19).