A data error from a laboratory in Sorrento Valley resulted in hundreds of San Diegans being falsely notified by the county that they had tested positive for COVID-19 when in fact they were negative.
The owner of US Specialty Labs says the error could be traced back to a data entry error from a vendor sending test information to the state. The provider had added a new data field that apparently triggered the error.
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“It’s devastating,” said Bryan Andrus, owner of US Specialty Labs. “I’m really disappointed and I apologize and wish it hadn’t happened.”
Andrus said the bug had nothing to do with the accuracy of the tests. Since last July, the lab has run between 50,000 and 60,000 tests with no similar problems.
One of the lab’s youngest test recipients was Chris Morris, who told NBC 7 that five family members were tested last Thursday and Friday.
“It was a huge relief when we got the negative test results,” said Morris. “And then, five days later, to get a phone call that said the negative result was wrong, you are actually positive – it just sent everyone to it.” A hoax as you can imagine, “said Morris, who was eventually informed that he and his family members actually judged the novel coronavirus negatively.
The county said it was doing its job notifying Morris and others who case investigators believed tested positive based on information from the state health department.
However, it turned out that the state was responding to incorrect information from the Sorrento Valley Lab’s data entry provider.
Andrus said the lab received calls from customers Monday morning about the mix-up. He said he reached out to county and state officials and the problem was resolved within 24 hours.
News of the bug brought some relief to Morris, who said the experience had led to persistent doubts about his test result.
“It was stressful,” said Morris. “You just poke around and both sides firmly believe the information they were giving you was correct. We had no idea what to do. We sat Masks on and masks off. Put on gloves, take off gloves. It was like … it would have been a comedy if it wasn’t so stressful and traumatic. “
Late on Tuesday, the district announced that more than 400 case investigations had been initiated as a result of the mix-up.
A representative from the district said none of the erroneous cases made it into the total confirmed number of cases.
Morris is confident that the mix-up does not compromise the integrity and importance of testing, especially since the subject is often politically charged.
“The integrity of the information is of the utmost importance,” said Morris. “If people can’t rely on information from the county, the government, and your testing labs, it is even harder to get people to do it.” adhere to. “