Minister, Premier Clarify Remarks About Results


“There were no errors with the machinery or the testing process,” Minister of Health Kim Wilson said, explaining that testing process “has been working correctly,” however “unfortunately, on these isolated occasions, persons received the wrong email.”

This follows after the Minister’s statement during last night’s press conference, which said, “The Ministry of Health would also like to advise the public of an unfortunate glitch which occurred at the MDL lab last week that led to the issuance of negative test results to a number of people who were in fact Covid-19 positive. This is extremely unfortunate, and the Ministry fully understands and regrets any distress or confusion caused to individuals and their close contacts regarding the negative results. I have been assured by the lab that they have reviewed their processes and structures, and put in place measures to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Minister’s Statement

Minister Wilson said, “I would like to clarify something which I said at last night’s press conference regarding an unfortunate occurrence at the MDL lab last week that led to the sending of negative test emails to a number of people who were in fact Covid-19 positive.

“To be clear, and the echo the Premier’s statement on social media last night, there were no errors with the machinery or the testing process; the testing process did not produce a ‘false negative’ result where the person was positive. The testing process has been the same since April and has been working correctly; it is a process in which I have full confidence.

“Unfortunately, on these isolated occasions, persons received the wrong email. The cause of these incidents was human error and Dr. Carika Weldon has taken full responsibility for these incidents and has personally called each person who was affected.

“In short, negative results were incorrectly entered into the system that issues the automated negative emails to persons who have completed tests. This data entry error resulted in people being called by their doctor the following day stating that they had tested positive when they had earlier received an email that said they were negative.

“Again, I must reiterate, there was no issue with any lab machine or the method of testing. Dr Weldon and her team have done an amazing job working extremely long hours to ensure that Bermuda is the fifth most tested country in the world.”

Screenshot from WorldOMeters showing Bermuda as the 5th per capita as far as testing 

Premier’s Statement

In a series of tweets late last night, Premier Burt said, “During today’s coronavirus press conference the Minister of Health issued an apology due to an incident that took place at MDL where some persons who had tested positive received an email that said they tested negative. The below is an explanation to provide clarity on what took place.

“At the outset, I want to make it clear that there was no error with the machinery or the process of the testing. The testing process did not produce a “false negative” result where the person was positive. The testing process has been the same since April and has been working correctly. There was no “glitch” with any machine. The testing process worked as it should, by identifying positive people from positive pools. Unfortunately, on these isolated occasions, persons received the wrong email.

“The cause of these incidents was human error on the part of Dr Carika Weldon. Dr Weldon has taken full responsibility for these incidents and personally called each person who was affected. Negative results were incorrectly entered into the system that issues the automated negative emails to persons who have completed tests. The tests for persons that tested positive had not yet completed and no result should have been entered for those persons.

“Usually, negative results are emailed directly to the persons tested, while positive results are sent to the person’s physician – and not the individual tested. When the testing process was completed, the positive results were entered into the system as positive. This 2nd entry triggered a report to be sent to the person’s doctor. This data entry error resulted in people being called by their doctor the following day stating that they had tested positive when they had earlier received an email that said they were negative.

“Again, I must reiterate, there was no issue with any lab machine or the method of testing. Dr Weldon & her team have done an amazing job working extremely long hours to ensure that Bermuda is the 5th most tested country in the world. In this instance, she made an error in entering the data which caused the unfortunate incident. Though it is easy to criticise this incident, Dr Weldon & her Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory team have done a stellar job for Bermuda under very difficult circumstances.

“To err is human, to forgive is divine. I hope that you will forgive Dr. Weldon; and I thank those persons this has affected directly, who she has already reached out to, for forgiving her as well.

“Thank you Dr Weldon for your tireless work and for accepting responsibility for this unfortunate error. Thank you for calling the persons affected to make amends. I am grateful for your work and all you have done and continue to do for your home, Bermuda,” he added.

When asked if she should have been named, the Premier noted, via Twitter, “Dr. Weldon has requested that she be identified, that is why I did it. That speaks to her character and I am grateful to have a proud Bermudian and committed scientist aiding in this battle against Covid.”

Dr Weldon, who returned from the UK to assist Bermuda with the testing procedure, shared the Premier’s tweets and also tweeted that she personally called every single person who was affected, and also noted, “I think as a country we like to shift blame and not take accountability. I run the lab. Each and every result is issued by me. My signature is on each report,” adding that there is an “amazing team” at the lab.

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