An Australian COVID-19 testing lab issued an apology after wrongly informing 400 patients that they tested negative, while they tested positive. St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney said on Sunday, December 26 that its pathology service, SydPath incorrectly messaged 400 people, who took the COVID test on December 23 and 24, that they tested negative. All 400 of them, however, had tested positive for COVID.
SydPath said in a statement that as soon as the issue came to their knowledge, they immediately contacted the impacted people. The lab also noted that an emergency response team is investigating the cause of this mistake, which is believed to be a human error. "We sincerely apologize to all those impacted," the statement said.
The lab was tackling a very large number of COVID tests
The medical director of SydPath, Anthony Dodds said in a statement the lab was tackling a very large volume of tests around the days leading up to the day the false notifications were sent. He further added that none of the people involved in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race were amongst the ones who were handed the wrong information about the COVID diagnosis.
'I had every symptom of COVID'
A 34-year-old man who was amongst the ones given the false notification told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he was skeptical of the results. To assure himself, he underwent a rapid COVID-19 test which ended up being positive. The man said that he doubted the lab test because he had every symptom of COVID. He then added that it was frustrating enough that the lab took so long to notify him of the results and on top of it they were false.
The incident comes as the testing services in New South Wales are struggling with a high influx of people, many of which, are reportedly turned away due to full capacity at testing clinics. The usual 7-day average for COVID tests is hitting around 145,000 tests a day. NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said that unnecessary tests, which he called 'tourism testing' are putting enormous pressure on pathology services.