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The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) Public Health Laboratory has identified a software malfunction on a piece of laboratory equipment. The malfunction affected 181 positive COVID-19 results that took place between Dec. 25, 2020 – Jan. 8, 2021. The issue has been resolved, the results will be considered inconclusive and the individuals have been notified of the error.

“On Friday, Jan. 8, the laboratory discovered a software issue while doing additional testing for further data analysis on another platform and there was a discrepancy in the results,” said Dr. Christie Massen, Chief Laboratory Officer for the NDDoH. “This prompted an immediate look back which identified the same issue on previous runs.”

Although the issue has been resolved, laboratorians have continued to manually review all raw data prior to the results being released. In addition, the laboratory staff has increased the frequency of their routine maintenance and software verification.

“While these lab issues are rare, we are committed to transparency to the public and the individuals we serve,” said Massen. “We take these malfunctions seriously and work to identify and quickly resolve the issues.”

The NDDoH Public Health Lab has analyzed over 932,000 samples since the pandemic began in March 2020.

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