74 Long Islanders receive false COVID-19 positive test results
Seventy-four Long Islanders received false positive tests for the coronavirus from Sunrise Medical Laboratories in mid-July, according to Nassau and Suffolk officials.
According to Sunrise Medical Laboratories, those false positive tests were the result of what they're calling an isolated incident at their Hicksville facility.
It's not clear what went wrong, but in a statement the lab says it discovered the mistake through internal quality assurance programs and close communication with clients.
Sunrise released a statement:
“Corrected reports were issued to providers caring for all affected patients on July 16 and 17, 2020…After extensive consultation with the New York State Department of Health [NYSDOH], and out of an abundance of caution, we are offering retesting to all patients receiving the corrected report at no charge. We are currently working with providers to reach out to the affected patients and complete the retesting as soon as feasible.”
Dr. Dwayne Breining, who runs Northwell Health's laboratory, says the machines that test for coronavirus are so sensitive that even the smallest contaminants can lead to errors.
“Every high capacity molecular lab has had or will have a contamination issue like this, which is what I assume it is,” says the doctor.
Howard Austin, of Smithtown, works in the medical field and told News 12 he was shocked to learn of his positive result, which turned out to be false.
He says he went into quarantine - upending the lives of around 50 of his close contacts, including his daughter and her boyfriend.
“He had to stay out of work for a week and couldn't come into contact with his family because his father has underlying medical conditions,” says Austin. “You give a sample to be tested, you expect to be handled in a careful manner.”