More than 500 thyroid patients may have received faulty test results: Eastern Health

Staff ~ The Telegram
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Eastern Health says more than 500 thyroid patients have taken a test that might have provided faulty results.
But Lynn Wade, the director of laboratory medicine for Eastern Health, says the patients tested are not in danger and that the particular test is part of a battery of tests given to patients.
She also noted the faulty test results are not due to a mistake made by Eastern Health.
Wade said an American vendor, Beckman Coulter, was recalling its test for thyroglobulin antibodies, used to help doctors determine the accuracy of a primary thyroglobulin test.
The tests are typically administered to thyroid cancer patients who've had their thyroids removed, to monitor any signs of a recurrence of the tumour. Some patients, after having a thyroid removed, produce antibodies that can throw off the primary thyroglobulin test, so the thyroglobulin antibody test provides better accuracy for the primary test.
Wade said Eastern Health notified clinicians of the potential problem and then gathered the names, test results and physicians of patients who have been administered the test from the same lot number, which has been in use since February. She said 593 patients have been tested since then, with 503 being tested from the faulty lot number, and doctors have been notified by registered letter with a list of their patients who have been administered the faulty test.
Wade said the problem with the lot is not confined to Newfoundland and Labrador, and stressed that this was not a mistake made by Eastern Health.
"This is a result of the reagent that was used that was possibly providing a faulty test result," she said, but acknowledged that she's concerned that any problem with a test results in mistrust from the public.
Eastern Health settled a class-action lawsuit last year that resulted from botched tests on breast cancer patients between 1997 and 2005.
"It bothers me that these kinds of things become a worry to the public," said Wade. "I certainly can understand that, but part of our quality assurance process is to make sure that when we get these alerts, we take due diligence to ensure that there is no adverse patient impact, and if there is, that they are notified sooner than later."

Organizations: Beckman Coulter

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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