On January 8, the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) Public Health Laboratory identified a software malfunction on a piece of laboratory equipment. The software malfunction was limited to one platform and affected a total of 641 positive COVID-19 results of 102,562 resulted on the machine between Nov. 7, 2020 and Jan. 8, 2021. The issue has been resolved; the results will be considered inconclusive and the individuals have been notified of the error.
“Laboratorians originally discovered a software issue internal to the equipment after seeing a discrepancy in the results after doing further data analysis on a different platform,” said Dr. Christie Massen, Chief Laboratory Officer for the NDDoH. “Thank you to the hard-working staff at the lab for manually going through every result on the platform to ensure the results were correct.”
Although the issue has been resolved, laboratorians continue to manually review all raw data before the results are released. In addition, the laboratory 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 quickly identify and resolve the issues.”
The NDDoH Public Health Lab has analyzed over 1 million samples since the pandemic began in March 2020.