Some patients within the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR) who were tested for hepatitis C between 2012 and March 2015 may need to get retested because of a change in technology.
According to the health region, there is a remote chance that they falsely tested positive for the liver disease. In March, it discovered that the testing being used since 2012 was based on an older technology and was not meeting an acceptable standard for patient care.
A review revealed that 26 patients who tested positive between January and April of this year did not end up having hepatitis C. While the review did not show why 26 false positives happened, it did identify an issue with the test since 2012.
Four thousand tests were conducted during that time, but it’s believed only about 1,000 patients were in a low enough range to potentially be affected.
“This is a very, very dynamic disease, and the test result that was taken two years ago may have been accurate and could be different today, so there’s absolutely no way of knowing if any of those test results were inaccurate,” said Dr. Joseph Blondeau, current head of pathology and laboratory medicine for the SHR.
He adds that while the health region does not believe there was an overall error in testing, announcing the potential for a false test result was in the best interest of the public.
Depending on the case, Blondeau said some doctors will contact patients about being retested. However, the onus is also on patients.
“If it’s keeping them awake at night, then they should go speak to their physician and say ‘get me retested so that I know for sure’,” he said.
Blondeau said the health region is now using the newest technology available to test for hepatitis C.