CHICAGO (CBS) — As the number of patients lining up at “pop-up” COVID-19 testing sites grows, so are the complaints about lengthy delays and confusing results.
CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports from a collection site in the Loop with yet another patient’s testing troubles. Donald Reynolds got one PCR test at a COVID-19 testing site, but two different results. And there are questions about the lab’s certifications.
“Well, the the other week I wasn’t feeling that great, you know, and my wife wanted me to go get tested.”
Donald Reynolds visited a Loop COVID-19 pop up on December 29 at 2:44 p.m. On New Years Day, he got the email that his PCR test was positive.
“I was like okay, I’m going to quarantine. I’m going to be away from my wife, my father-in-law, not going around you guys,” Reynolds said.
But in the middle of his quarantine, three days later, he got another email saying his PCR was negative. Same test from the 29th collected at 2:44pm.
“So I don’t know if I have it, if I don’t have it, but I’m married and I have an elderly father-in-law,” Reynolds said. “I can’t take a chance with. So I am wearing a mask until I find out for sure what’s going on.”
It took a few of tries to get through to Express Medical Labs to try to ask what happened. A phone operator said they couldn’t comment due to privacy laws.
But what about this: One of the tests said the test results are accredited by the College of American Pathologists.
CBS 2 reached out to College of American Pathologist (or CAP), which said that’s wrong, they’re not CAP accredited. CBS 2 was told a lab director would call back.
“Is there an oversight what happened to the oversight? Who’s responsible for this,” asked Reynolds.
CBS 2 took those questions Sebastian Hayto.
“There is not sufficient infrastructure or regulation around just collectors.”
He’s Chief Operating Officer at Kameo, a COVID-19 testing company that works with only labs that are CAP or COLA (Commission on Office Laboratory Accreditation) certified. Basically, they’re an extra layer of scrutiny. He also said the majority or errors in the testing process occur in the collection.
“But still I expect to see the number of independent testing sites like you mentioned, I think mom and pops will come and go and hopefully there’s some consolidation,” Hayto said. “To make sure that there’s process and standards that are being met across across all of those different sites.”
A representative from the Express Medical Labs said in regards to the CAP accreditation, the company has made steps to become CAP certified and have passed two surveys. The company will be removing that language from their test results so as not to mistakenly misrepresent the labs credentials.
As for the mistake with Donald Reynold’s test, he acknowledged that it was during the peak of testing demand where they experienced unprecedented volumes — daily capacity is about 3,000 samples that can be processed in 24 hours.
Between December 25 and January 1, the volume was about 10,000 tests daily and that the volume may have contributed to errors. The company has at least 60 clients in the Chicago area that collect samples and sending them to their labs.
In the interest of transparency, Kameo is used by CBS 2 for COVID testing.