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Thousands of diagnostic studies in error; lab offers free re-tests

The impetus for some form of regulation of medical diagnostic testing received a boost on January 8, 2009, when Quest Diagnostics was forced to acknowledge that it sent erroneous test results to the patients of "thousands" of doctors.  (It refused to be more specific with regard to how many patients were notifified.)  The erroneous results related to vitamin D levels tested over the past two years.  Quest claims it has fixed the problem which resulted in falsely high vitamin D levels in most cases.  Doctors who noticed abnormally high numbers and were mistrustful had complained to Quest as early as the summer of 2007.

Dr. Neil Binkley of the University of Wisconsin explained that the problem is more pervasive than simply Quest Diagnostics, and noted that several years ago he sent his own blood sample to six different laboratories and received completely inconsistent results ranging from 14 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter to 41 nanograms:  that range varies from "deficient" vitamin D to "adequate", and appropriate treatment would vary widely given those results.

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