An Illinois-based Covid-19 testing company which operates at least 13 sites in Washington state has been accused of faking, delaying, or failing to provide test results, lying to patients, and improperly storing test samples, according to a lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, the Seattle Times reports.
The defendant is the Center for COVID control, which has expanded to roughly 300 locations across the Untied States - taking advantage of residents when frequent Covid-19 testing was in high demand as a "critical tool in the fight against COVID-19," the filing reads.
"Center for COVID Control contributed to the spread of COVID-19 when it provided false negative results," said Ferguson in a statement, adding "These sham testing centers threatened the health and safety of our communities. They must be held accountable."
The suit also alleges the Center for COVID Control stored tests in garbage bags for more than a week, rather than properly refrigerating them; backdated sample-collection dates so stale samples would still be processed; and instructed its employees to “lie to patients on a daily basis” when Washingtonians asked about delayed results.
Ferguson also named Akbar Syed, Aleya Siyaj and Doctors Clinical Laboratory in the lawsuit.
Syed and Siyaj, who are married, co-founded the testing company and live in Illinois, according to the suit. Doctors Clinical Laboratory is also based in Illinois and tests samples collected in Washington, though it’s not registered with the Washington Secretary of State’s Office, the suit says. -Seattle Times
For the last several weeks, customers across the country have been complaining about delayed or missing test results, causing health authorities in multiple states - including CA and IL, to launch investigations.
According to the Washington AG's office, the company failed to procure a license to operate in Washington (aside from Yakima), and plans to file for a preliminary injunction to stop them "soon," the statement reads.
One former Illinois-based employee quit the Center for COVID Control after they said they saw "trash bags of tests piled up and (their) team was instructed to lie to patients on a daily basis."
As the company fell further behind on processing samples, the statement said, they were “flooded” with calls asking about results — leading to hourslong wait times. Employees were then told to tell patients to expect results in 24 hours, even if there was no information about the particular sample, or that their results were inconclusive, which would require the patient to get another test.
As of Monday, the company had also billed the federal government $124 million for tests for “uninsured” patients, the statement said. -Seattle Times
"The company frequently marked patients as ‘uninsured,’ even if they were insured," said Ferguson's office. "Employees were instructed to mark patients as ‘uninsured’ if the patient didn’t provide their insurance information by the time of testing or if their insurance company wasn’t listed on the company’s data entry form."
Read the rest of the report here.