Inspectors found “significant deficiencies” at California’s new coronavirus testing laboratory, difficulties that state officials partly blamed Monday on the speedy acceleration they required from the lab’s private operator under terms of a $1.4 billion contract.
“A fraction of 1% of the more than 1.5 million tests processed at the Valencia Branch Laboratory had problems,” the state said in a report. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said, “one incorrect test result is one too many.”
The lab that opened in October north of Los Angeles and is worth $25 million could not test around 250 samples due to lab errors, the state said, which constitutes a 0.017 percent error rate. It issued corrected reports for about 60 (0.0039%) samples.
“California takes these findings seriously” and continues working with the contractor “to ensure Californians have the accurate, timely, high-quality test results,” Ghaly said in a statement.
Massachusetts-based diagnostics company PerkinElmer, which operates the lab as part of the agreement signed with the state last fall, said it believes “the deficiencies … have long since been resolved.”
“The California Department of Public Health, which regulates laboratories, said the findings came from its initial routine inspection in early December. The company said it appeared some of the information it provided since then had not been included in that inspection report,” the Associated Press reported.
The report also said the department is investigating whistleblower allegations of incompetence and mismanagement. CBS13 TV in Sacramento alleged problems of “employees handling patient specimens had not been signed off for competency on crucial skills. Documented competency is required under federal law.”