Clerical error led to release of COVID-19 positive patient, says Health Department in Villupuram

The 30-year-old patient from Delhi was sent from Villupuram Government Hospital to a private quarantine facility from where he went missing, after his test result was erroneously marked negative

S. Prasad | PTI

A day after the COVID-19 test results of a Delhi-based man came back positive after he was released from quarantine from the Villupuram Government Hospital, Health Department authorities in Villupuram claimed that a ‘clerical error’ had led to the incident.

Highly placed sources in the Health Department, on condition of anonymity, said the patient, aged 30 years had come to Puducherry to attend an interview last month, after which he reached Villupuram. He was staying in a facility operated by the Villupuram Red Cross when he developed fever and was admitted to the Villupuram Government Hospital on April 6

“The treatment protocol for COVID-19 testing was followed and the throat swabs of the patient along with test samples of others were sent to the Villupuram Government Medical College and Hospital (VGMCH) at Mundiyambakkam here for testing the same day.

“While the test results of three other patients were positive, the results of the Delhi man were pending and inconclusive. As per protocol, patients who test negative should be sent to a facility or home quarantine while the second round of confirmatory tests have to be taken for tests which are inconclusive or pending,” an official said.

The staff at the VGMCH, while entering the results in the report, had made a clerical error and entered his test results as negative. This error contributed to the whole confusion following which the authorities in the GH decided to discharge the patient.

The man was taken in a 108 ambulance to the facility quarantine operated by the Red Cross, from where he went missing.

Health Department officials said that that a minimum of 15 to 20 samples were sent every day to VGMCH. “The Department has requested the staff in VGMCH to be more cautious to prevent such incidents,” an official said.

Meanwhile, the Villupuram district police have constituted seven special teams and intensified surveillance across the district to trace the man.