400+ patients mistakenly told they may have cancer due to software glitch

Grail, a company that developed blood tests to detect cancer, mistakenly sent approximately 400 customers letters saying they might be positive for the disease, The New York Times reported June 4.

Grail's Galleri test uses blood to detect cancer signals shared by 50 types of cancers and is available only by prescription, according to the report. Grail said in a statement that one of its vendors sent hundreds of letters with incorrect test results due to a "software configuration issue." The vendor, PWNHealth, notified Grail of the letter May 19, saying it had been sent to roughly 400 customers from May 10 to May 18. Grail notified the customers of the mistake by phone and email.

"No patient health information has been disclosed or breached due to this issue, and no patient harm or adverse events have been reported," Grail's statement said.

The issue was not caused by incorrect test results, according to the company. More than half of people who received the erroneous letter had not yet had their blood drawn for the test. PWNHealth said in a statement that the system it uses to send template messages to people had a "misconfiguration." 

"We addressed the underlying problem within an hour of becoming aware of it and have implemented additional processes to ensure it does not happen again," PWNHealth said. "In partnership with Grail, we started contacting impacted individuals within 36 hours."

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