In a shocking incident, it has come to light that the Chennai-based Medall Laboratory had uploaded 4,000 RT-PCR samples that tested “negative” for COVID-19 as “positive” in the website of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR). Not just that, it had shown the results of samples from Kolkata under the Tamil Nadu pool (Kallakurichi district).
Suspecting a nexus between the lab and private hospitals, the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine on Friday cancelled Medall’s permission to test RT-PCR samples for COVID.
“The Government suspects the presence of due nexus between the laboratory and hospitals. The wrong reports may be used to invite patients to the hospitals and subsequently medical bills shall be earned by the hospital,” TS Selvanagayam, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, said in a notice to Medall. The managing director of the company has been asked to submit a detailed explanation in connection with the discrepancies.
“The uploading of negative results as positive led to undue confusion, panic, anxiety and stress among general public,” he noted. Besides, the incomplete details in the report delayed the identification of positive cases and hindered the Government’s steps in containing the spread of the viral infection.
“The uploading of positive results of samples received from outside Tamil Nadu account has led to the undue increase in caseload and positivity of TN. The wrong reporting of results may lead to wrong calculation of resource allocation by the Government of India,” Dr Selvavinayagam said.
In a release, Medall claimed that its RT-PCR testing process is not in question. "It must be clarified that the report generated and shared with customers who took the test is accurate. So the issue is not with the testing process or its quality or its accuracy. The issue has been an encryption error that occurred while uploading the data to the ICMR server. When the encryption error is addressed, it offsets the issue/challenge," the lab claimed.