Audit finds Iowa lab left up to $1.1M on the table

An internal audit found that the University of Iowa's State Hygienic Laboratory left as much as $1.1 million on the table, thanks to inconsistent billing and document collection, according to a Nov. 8 report in The Gazette.

The lab tests for a range of infectious diseases, processing more than 1,500 samples a day. The lab's governing document outlines when tests should be run without charge "due to the direct threat to public health." Diseases on the list for possible fee waiver include sexually transmitted diseases. 

The lab, according to the audit, is not consistently charging for samples tested, nor is it gathering data that determines if fee exemptions are met. Instead, it determines what tests to charge for based on a form pre-populated to perform tests for free.

From January to June 2021, 11,400 tests were performed at no charge, despite a lack of associated fee exemption data, according to the report.

Lab director Mike Pentella, PhD, said he thinks the discrepancies can be chalked up to clerical errors rather than financial mismanagement.

"We believe the audit's findings are related to paperwork issues rather than any actual loss of potential revenue,"Dr. Pentella said.

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