January 8, 2009

Vitamin D Test Issue Has Been Resolved

Quest Diagnostics Inc, the nation's largest medical lab company, reported on Thursday that it has identified and solved a problem that might have provided inaccurate test results for Vitamin D deficiency.

Madison, New Jersey-based Quest sent thousands of letters warning doctors who ordered the tests that they might have received "questionable" results. Additionally, Quest vice president for communications Gary Samuels said the firm ordered new free tests for patients affected by the inaccurate tests.

"Last year, we did have an issue in a few of our labs that affected a small minority of tests in those labs," Samuels told the Associated Press. "We identified the problem ourselves. We corrected the problem. We notified doctors and other customers and offered free retesting."

The issue was discovered this summer, when Quest experts noticed an "upward trend" in the vitamin D levels being translated by the tests, said Dr. Wael Salameh, a senior medical official with Quest.

Quest officials said the cause of the problem was the result of the way some of the company's labs were mixing chemicals used in the tests. Officials told AP that the issue was linked to about 7 percent of patients who were tested from 2007 to 2008.

Blood tests to check levels of vitamin D are becoming increasingly popular because research has shown a possible link between too little of the "sunshine vitamin" and a higher risk of cancer or heart disease.

The company has reported double-digit sales growth for its vitamin D tests in recent quarters.


On The Net:

Quest Diagnostics Inc.