Reasons for having to take a second COVID-19 test: technical and mechanical errors


COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)– NBC4 has learned some patients who were tested for COVID-19 need to be tested a second time, in order to find out if they have the virus.

According to the Mount Carmel Health System, OhioHealth, and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, this is a possibility for some patients and is not common.

Dr. JoAnna Williams, the director for clinical laboratories at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told NBC4 that her health system has run 315,000 COVID-19 tests since the beginning of the pandemic. She explained about 1-percent of those, which amounts to approximately 3,150 tests, have had to be rerun.

According to Williams, a number of factors could lead to a test needing to be redone. For example, there could be an error with the testing instruments, or a test may not have obtained a good sample to produce results. There is also the possibility of the testing leaking and issues with the labeling.

“More often than not, it’s one of the issues of labeling and leaking, and so we identify that right when we get the specimens,” she said. “If it’s a testing issue then we would probably, given our current workload and our current turnaround time, identify that by at least the following day.

Williams, as well as spokespeople from OhioHealth and Mount Carmel, told NBC4 that when there is a testing issue, the health systems will notify the patients so they can be retested as soon as possible.

“If they’re instructed by their primary care physician to quarantine, then they need to stay in quarantine,” said Williams. “It certainly is a big ask, quarantining is hard, we all get that, but really following the instructions of their physician who ordered the test is what they should do.”

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