A breakdown in communication between hospitals and laboratories resulted in almost 500 positive COVID-19 cases not being notified to their local health agencies in Ontario due to a reporting error.
According to Ontario Health, hospital laboratories have been collaborating to “shoulder the workload around the large volume of testing required.”
Sometimes, laboratories that conduct testing for other hospitals and assessment centres ask those sites to notify the public health unit of positive results, so the units can begin contact tracing.
“In this case, there was a breakdown in communication and a number of positive tests were not communicated to the public health units,” Ontario Health said in a statement.
“Ontario Health takes full responsibility. The assessment centre and the COVID-19 lab are doing excellent work.”
As the investigation has progressed, it has been determined that approximately 485 patients are involved.
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Since the probe, the provincial lab network has now confirmed all laboratories doing coronavirus testing are clear on who contacts the patients and who contacts the public health agencies, to ensure “timely case investigation and contact tracing going forward.”
Now, the focus is ensuring that those with positive tests were contacted and public health agencies know who to include with case management and contact tracing.
“Calls to patients to date have confirmed that the majority of patients knew that they had had a positive test,” Ontario Health said.
This is because people can go online to see their results and/or they’ve been contacted by a physician responsible for suggesting they be tested.
However, many of these patients still require case management by public health, which is being “rectified by the public health units.”
“Ontario Health is very sorry that this has occurred. The impact of the error may not be fully understood for some time. When public health agencies complete their case management and contact tracing there will be a greater understanding of the impact.”
On Tuesday, Health Minister Christine Elliot also addressed the issue during the premier’s daily press conference, saying the majority of the 485 patients checked their results online and self-isolated as directed.
“All units are aware of the process and this will not be happening again,” she said.
“Everyone is very clear on their reporting obligations.”
On June 2, Ontario reported an increase of new coronavirus cases for the second day in a row with new cases exceeding 400.
The province’s total is now 28,709 but 78.3% of the cases have been resolved, with 22,484 patients recovered and 2,293 reported deaths.