A private medical laboratory in Singapore accidentally disposed of some COVID-19 swab samples before being tested following lapses in the protocol, prompting authorities to investigate the matter. The sample, collected from clinics under the Swab-and-Send-Home (Sash) programme, were inadvertently discarded before testing at the lab. About 233 COVID-19 swab samples were disposed of, leading to retesting of patients, The Straits Times reported on Monday.
The incident at Quest Laboratories happened last Wednesday and was discovered two days later when clinics began contacting the lab to ask about the test results for these patients. Under the Sash programme, patients who meet certain criteria are swabbed and then sent home to wait for their test results. Their swab samples are sent to a lab, where testing can take up to three working days.
One of the lapses involved an in-house courier who did not follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) when handing over the untested samples to the lab and this resulted in the batch being disposed of alongside old samples, said the lab spokesman. As of Sunday, the 87 affected clinics have been informed of the incident and 102 patients have been retested. Their results have turned out negative, said the lab.
The Health Ministry, which was notified of the incident last Friday, said it is working with the lab and the clinics to contact the affected patients to be re-swabbed as soon as possible. The lab said the retested samples will be prioritised to ensure that affected patients receive their test results without further delay. The ministry said it takes a serious view of the incident and is investigating the matter.
It added that it will work with the lab to put in place the “necessary corrective and preventive measures” to ensure such lapses do not happen again. Meanwhile, Singapore reported four new COVID-19 cases on Monday, taking the country’s total count to 57,880.