Faulty blood tests impact 300, CN health official says

BY CHAD HUNTER
Reporter
04/16/2019 12:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Several hundred thyroid-related blood tests were rendered inaccurate by a third-party company, a Cherokee Nation health official said on April 15.

Dr. Roger Montgomery, Health Services medical director, said 306 patients system-wide were affected by the tests conducted by LabCorp.

“I received a list of names today of patients who had a blood test done by LabCorp using a faulty reagent,” Montgomery told the Tribal Council’s Health Committee. “So the results were inaccurate. I consider it very low risk. There is no immediate consequence. It’s usually a test used along with several other tests to help diagnose and treat patients with thyroid disease. The other tests that the clinician typically orders guide their decision about whether to offer that patient thyroid hormone or some other treatment.”

The tests were performed over a six-month period that ended in February, Montgomery said.
“They just notified me about this,” he said, adding that the “unusual” blood test is called thyroglobulin antibody.

“I think I can probably speak for all of us,” Tribal Councilor Mike Shambaugh said, “that we appreciate you identifying that we have a problem, identifying the patients that need to be contacted and doing that in a timely manner like you’re doing. That’s important.”

Patients affected are system-wide, Montgomery said.

“This would include patients that had their blood drawn at Hastings and the outlying clinics,” he said. “By the way, this isn’t just Cherokee Nation patients. This is testing for patients all over.”

To determine a risk assessment, Montgomery said he consulted with LabCorp, a thyroid specialist utilized by CN Health Services and other experts.

“Based on our discussions, the risk assessment to our patients is deemed to be very low,” he said. “Based on this low-risk assessment, I’m recommending patients be notified by mail to have testing redone at their convenience.”

Health Services officials said patients affected would receive a letter with instructions to repeat their blood tests at their earliest convenience during their next upcoming appointment or if they do not have a scheduled appointment they can contact their primary care providers to request blood tests. If a patient does not have a primary care provider, he or she would need to contact the clinic medical director.
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