Sydney hospital gives 400 people WRONG Covid-19 test result on Christmas Day

A major hospital in Sydney, Australia told 400 people on Christmas Day that their PCR tests for Covid-19 were negative when the tests were in fact positive.

“Last night we incorrectly messaged 400 patients who had been swabbed at our centres from December 22 to 23, advising them they had tested negative to COVID-19,” Sydney Pathology Medical Director Anthony Dodds said in a statement

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“These people in fact had tested positive,” Dodds continued. “As soon as we became aware of this issue this morning, SydPath immediately commenced the process to contact these impacted individuals.”

The error occurred at the Sydney Pathology (SydPath) testing center at St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst. A hospital spokesperson said that by late afternoon the affected individuals had all been notified of the incorrect results and that the hospital had directed them to isolate immediately. 

“An emergency response team is now investigating the cause of this mistake, which is believed to be human error,” SydPath said in a statement. “We sincerely apologise to all those impacted.” SydPath also launched an investigation into the incident.

“Do I go get another test and see if it’s positive or negative? I just need some assurance,” wondered Vanessa Li, 30, from Bellevue Hill. Li is one of the 400 people who received the wrong test result.

“I got my PCR results back last night, around 8:30pm, saying I was negative. So this morning I went shopping and have been at Westfield all day,” Li said. “When I was in one of the shops they texted me with a positive test result.”

Li is also anxious to find out if her housemate and her boyfriend also received incorrect information about their PCR tests. Both the housemate and boyfriend were in the same car as Li, and all three got tested at SydPath at the same time.

“We all got tested on the same day and they got their negative results too, so they’re waiting to see if their test results change as well,” said Li.

Li said she has had no further contact with the hospital after receiving the message correcting the reporting error with regards to her Covid test.

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This incident comes as another record number of cases was reported for the state on Sunday – 6,394 new infections. It is unclear as yet whether the 400 positive cases are included in Sunday’s tally.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the state is struggling to keep up with the high demand for testing, especially during the holiday season. The government is asking that people who are not ill refrain from getting tested.

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“If you do not feel unwell, if you are not required to be tested and have not been directed so by NSW Health, or you are not travelling interstate and that is a requirement, there is no need to be tested,” said Dominic Perrottet, Premier of New South Wales.

“We can’t have are people sitting in testing queues which takes away from people who are unwell and who need that test because we want to get those tests back as quickly as possible,” he said in a press conference with the Health Minister.