Hospitals say they're not to blame for testing errors

Posted at 7:09 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 19:10:20-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) and local labs have two different stories when it comes to COVID-19 testing errors.

The FDOH’s records show some labs in Southwest Florida had 100 percent positivity rate for coronavirus tests. The department says that’s because small labs aren’t reporting their negative results.

NCH Healthcare CEO Dr. Paul Hiltz and Lee Health’s Chief Operating Officer Dr. Scott Nygaard addressed the errors in a media briefing Wednesday.

“I want to assure you that we have been accurately reporting both positive and negative results,” said Nygaard. “Yesterday we had a 28.1 percent positivity rate on COVID-19 tests.”

Hiltz says NCH positivity rate was 14 percent. But the website shows everyone tested positive for COVID-19 if they got tested at NCH Microbiology Lab and Lee memorial hospital in a statement they said it’s because some labs aren’t reporting their negative results. Nygaard says that’s not the case for Lee Health.

“All positive and negative results are electronically reported daily. It is done this way to enable the state to begin contact tracing as quickly as possible, with every positive test,” he said. “We are currently working with the Florida Department of Health to resolve this discrepancy.”

A discrepancy that’s dates back before this week. The department’s July 1st report shows no negative results for that NCH lab or Lee Memorial Hospital.

But, if you look at the state’s lab report on May 25th, it shows Lee Memorial Hospital’s negative results, but NCH Microbiology’s negative results were still missing. So, it’s hard to tell when the errors started.

This doesn’t change the total number of new cases the state has been reporting, just the positivity rate at certain labs.

Here's the Department of Health's full statement:

All COVID-19 cases are confirmed through diagnostic and antigen testing and then reported to the state by the labs performing the testing. Private and public laboratories are required to report positive and negative test results to the state immediately.

In recent days, the Florida Department of Health noticed that some smaller, private labs weren't reporting negative test result data to the state. The Department immediately began working with those labs to ensure that all results were being reported in order to provide comprehensive and transparent data.

As the state continues to receive results from various labs, the Department will continue educating these labs on proper protocol for reporting COVID-19 test results.