TTSH apologises for mislabelling samples, causing student to be wrongly admitted as COVID-19 patient

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·2-min read
A health worker takes a nasal swab test sample from an essential worker to detect the COVID-19 novel coronavirus before the workers return to work in Singapore on June 10, 2020. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
A health worker takes a nasal swab test sample to detect the COVID-19 coronavirus in Singapore. (PHOTO: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) has apologised on Tuesday (14 July) for mislabelling two COVID-19 test samples, which resulted in a secondary school student being wrongly admitted into hospital as a coronavirus patient.

In a media release on Tuesday, TTSH said a female Jurong West Secondary School student was wrongly found to be positive for COVID-19 by its laboratory.

“Our investigations revealed that there was an erroneous reporting of this case by our laboratory. This arose from a human error in the laboratory where two patients had their specimens cross-labelled,” the hospital said in the media release.

TTSH has since informed both patients of the mislabelling incident, and apologised for the anxiety caused.

The Secondary 1 student is otherwise well and has been discharged. She was re-tested twice at National University Hospital, and found to be negative on both occasions. TTSH’s laboratory repeated a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on the original sample, and the result was negative.

The other patient, who was in isolation, has since been admitted to the National Centre of Infectious Diseases and remains stable.

“We are sorry for the mistake and sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our patients and her school,” TTSH said in the media release.

“We have audited our laboratory testing for COVID-19 for that period and no other mislabelling was discovered. We have also put in place additional checks to prevent such an incident from occurring again.”

Home-based learning for Sec 1 students

The student was linked to a previously-confirmed case, also a Secondary 1 student from the same school. She was placed on Home Quarantine Order since 6 July.

The school had placed all Secondary 1 students on home-based learning (HBL) on 8 and 9 July, pending the outcome of Ministry of Health (MOH) investigations. The HBL was subsequently extended to 18 July as an added precaution.

In a media release on Tuesday, the Ministry of Education confirmed that all 71 students and staff who were the close contacts of the first case have tested negative. They will continue to serve their Home Quarantine Order as issued by MOH before returning to school.

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