GU Hospital botches breast cancer tests, closes lab
According to the Washington Post, Georgetown University Hospital suspended work in its molecular diagnostics laboratory after two women were incorrectly told that they did not have an aggressive form of breast cancer known as HER2.
The lab’s temporary closure comes at the end of a string of alleged improper testing procedures that began in May 2009, says the Post.
In January 2010, after the lab failed an examination of its HER2 test procedures, an unnamed employee suggested that her supervisors notify patients and re-test tissue samples. The employee alleged that her supervisors, including lab director Dan Hartmann, failed to act for four months, so she filed an official complaint to hospital administrators in April.
Shortly after the employee filed her complaint, the hospital sent 249 women’s tissue samples to an independent lab to be tested. Physicians in the hospital learned of the two false-negative tests within the past two weeks, which led to the suspension.
“[W]e want our policies and procedures to be impeccable,” Chief Medical Officer Stephen Evans said to the Post through a spokeswoman.
According to the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid services, federal officials are investigating the employee’s accusations. Deficiencies in testing policies, such as documentation errors, could potentially cause the lab to lose its accreditation.
Evans expects the lab to start testing again in one to two months.