Sanctions withdrawn against California COVID-19 test lab

The California Department of Public Health's Valencia Branch Laboratory won't be issued sanctions after the department investigated the COVID-19 testing lab for much of the year, according to a Nov. 22 The Press Democrat report.

State inspectors raised alarms earlier in 2021 about how the $25 million lab was reporting its processing errors, whether staff were properly trained, and whether staff were following contamination reduction protocols, according to the report.

The department issued a letter of intent to impose sanctions on Oct. 21 after determining the lab, which began operating late last year, had not corrected the issues found in inspections despite being given several extensions, according to the report. The state allowed the lab's $1.7 billion contract with diagnostics company PerkinElmer to automatically renew on Oct. 31.

The state withdrew its threat of sanctions on Nov. 10, saying the lab had demonstrated correction of the issues, according to the report.

CBS affiliate CBS 13 in Sacramento published a report in February in which whistleblowers said they saw lab techs sleeping or watching videos while processing nasal swabs and that unsupervised staff processed samples before completing the required training.

A Nov. 22 California Department of Public Health report showed that the state pointed out major, widespread issues to the lab, including failure to assess the competency of more than half of its staff before allowing them to process, test and report patient samples. The lab responded that all employees were given the required training but there was a delay in documentation.

The department sent letters in February and April to Adam Rosendorff, MD, director of the lab, instructing him to fix the deficiencies. Dr. Rosendorff is the former lab director of the failed blood-testing startup Theranos.

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