Safety first. Words considered sacrosanct by a lot of companies and fields, especially those the handle more dangerous work, like high power facilities, or bio labs that test disease-bringing pathogens. These companies consider safety their utmost priority, to the point they’ll hire workplace health & safety consultants with notable regularity. After all, their work is potentially harmful if handled improperly.
One Washington D.C. health lab, however, has recently botched tests for the dangerous Zika virus. The result is that the public facility was then audited by Federal regulators. Jenifer Smith, Director for the district’s Department of Forensic Science, has released details regarding the audit.
An oversight hearing was held before a D.C. council committee, wherein officials from the CMS, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, visited the aforementioned lab on the last two days of February in an attempt to understand what lead to nine pregnant women infected with the Zika virus to be erroneously declared as clear.
There have been no details on what disciplinary actions may be implemented of the mistakes. The CMS, however, will likely close the health lab for the time being, until compliance with federal law.
Director Smith disclosed details about the visit after a D.C. Council member representing D-Ward 6, Charles Allen, inquired about the lab’s accreditation after the botch tests. Smith answered that question can be handled by the officials of the Clinical Laboratory Amendments (CLIA) program, who are reviewing all the paperwork regarding the screw-up. After the review, Smith says, the CLIA officials will render judgment. They might act, or they might take the stance of workplace health & safety consultants and offer advice.
Councillor Allen states concern regarding the public health lab’s accreditation, but hopes that federal officials would not opt for such an extreme decision.
It is worth noting that the number of mistaken results may increase, as the sample has not been fully analysed and retested. In addition to that, the Zika virus’s symptoms generally take time to manifest within the affected children, around a year or so of time. This means that these mistake will have no immediate fallout, but time will tell what this will all mean.