Source: Hong Kong Information Services
The Hospital Authority today addressed a discrepancy involving COVID-19 test results communicated through SMS messages and apologised to those affected.
The authority explained that to tie in with the Centre for Health Protection’s (CHP) Enhanced Laboratory Surveillance Programme, it contracted a test service vendor since July to arrange COVID-19 tests.
Such tests included the enhanced service of notifying people of their negative test results via SMS message.
The authority was informed by the vendor that a discrepancy involving personal identification information was found during the SMS handling process, resulting in the receipt of other people’s negative test results.
Among the 2,972 participants involved in the incident, six of them tested positive, but were sent SMS messages that stated they had tested negative.
Upon notification of the error, the authority immediately contacted the CHP to follow up with the six patients.
The authority confirmed with the CHP that the six patients have already been admitted under isolation treatment. It further stressed that patient management is not affected and no patient has unduly stayed in the community.
The authority emphasised that all cases that test positive for COVID-19 are reported to the CHP separately through an established mechanism. The CHP will then inform the patients and arrange their admission for treatment.
The authority noted that the vendor has sent clarification SMS messages to the remaining recipients to amend the personal identification information and reconfirm the test results.
The vendor has also verified that no other people with positive test results were notified as negative cases wrongly.
The authority expressed immense concern over the incident and offered an apology to the people affected.
In addition to reporting the incident to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, the authority also requested the vendor to review the system and fix the error to avoid the occurrence of similar incidents.