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AU explains snag that blinded South Carolina to 15,000 COVID-19 tests

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 11:47 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2020 at 4:28 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta University Health blames a miscommunication for a delay in South Carolina receiving coronavirus test results for thousands of residents.

The problem led to the reporting Monday of 15,000 results dating as far back as March 18.

South Carolina officials said 2,000 of the test results were positive. Because of the time range, most of the infections probably aren’t still active.

South Carolina’s cumulative test results were updated after the new information was provided by AU.

While the AU lab didn’t report results to the state, it’s expected to have given them to the health care providers who submitted the specimens, who then would have told patients. Providers are also expected to report positive results to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Because DHEC didn’t know the results, it couldn’t perform contact investigations for each case, according to officials.

Different states have different reporting requirements, so this type of thing has been an issue across the country, according to Dr. Michael Kacka, DHEC chief medical officer.

“The overwhelming majority of private laboratories are quickly reporting negative and positive test results to DHEC, however, we’re aware of out-of-state labs who may not know about South Carolina’s COVID-19 reporting requirements,” he said. As a result, the agency is continuing its outreach to labs.

AU Health had this to say about the issue: “Augusta University Health has been reporting notifiable diseases in an electronic fashion to DHEC for several years. On Sept. 14, DHEC notified AU Health in writing that the health system’s COVID-19 data had not been received. The delay, caused by a change in the DHEC reporting procedure, was immediately corrected.”

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