TAMPA, Fla. - 33,000 COVID-19 tests administered in West and Central Florida are being deemed "unreliable" by AdventHealth, leaving patients wondering if their results were accurate -- if they received their results at all.
The healthcare system announced Saturday it terminated a contract with a third-party lab due to "unacceptable delays" in processing. They did not name the lab, specifically.
The CEO of Texas-based MicroGen DX, Rick Martin confirms the lab in question is his.
"I can understand the frustration," Martin said.
He admitted there were processing delays but he's confident results were not compromised.
"The first month, we were doing 24-48 hours," Martin said of turnaround times. "They were delivering an average between a thousand and 2,000 samples a day."
As more test sites opened, Martin said turnaround slowed to 10 to 12 days.
"We were working three shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, putting everything into it to try to catch up," Martin said.
Another problem that slowed processing, he said, was a shortage of the plastic tip combs used in sample extraction. Martin said his orders for those combs were canceled or rerouted to other labs as part of the Defense Production Act.
With a backlog, some samples sat at room temperature, which brought reliability into question.
"Even at room temperature, room temperature, they were good for 30 days," Martin said. "I never had their samples at room temperature more than 2-3 days before we were processing them."
Martin said he has data to back up that claim and has asked the College of American Pathologists to inspect the lab.
"If I'm going to be accused of having an unreliable test, then I'm going to get the referee in there," Martin said.
AdventHealth responded with a statement, saying, “We stand by our initial statement and have notified the appropriate regulatory agencies of the issues we experienced with this lab. Our complete focus is on notifying and accommodating every consumer who has been impacted by this situation. Our teams are working around the clock to contact these individuals and assess how we can best help them, which may include an appointment with a provider and a retest in some circumstances. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should seek care immediately.”
Martin said MicroGen DX is trying to help make things right with patients by taking their phone calls and sending them COVID-19 test kits.
"We are trying to help as many as we can," he said.
Anyone with concerns can reach the lab at 1-855-208-0019 or by visiting https://microgendx.com/contact-microgen-dx/.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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