Private Singapore Lab Throws Away 233 Covid-19 Swab Samples By Mistake On 7 Oct

Awaiting medical test results can be a nerve-wrecking experience, especially when it concerns something serious like Covid-19.

For 233 patients, the wait took a surprising turn when a private lab in Singapore reportedly disposed of their swab samples recently.

Promptly rectifying the situation, the lab reached out to the 87 clinics, who quickly arranged for re-tests.

Courier didn’t follow delivery protocol for swab samples

According to The Straits Times (ST), clinics discovered the lapse when they contacted Quest Laboratories on 9 Oct to inquire about their patients’ test results.

The lab informed them that they had disposed of the swab samples by mistake on 7 Oct, due to an administrative oversight.

An in-house courier who allegedly failed to follow standard operating procedures (SOP) caused the new samples to end up together with old ones.


As a result, they accidentally threw the batch out together, following Covid-19 safety requirements.

A spokesperson assured that the incident only affected one batch of samples.

MOH & clinics arranging for re-tests

After receiving news of the incident, the Ministry of Health (MOH) got in touch with Quest Laboratories and the 87 clinics to contact affected patients.

They arranged for re-swabbing quickly, and prioritised these patients’ samples so they can get their results soon.


ST reports that as of Sunday (11 Oct), the clinics have re-tested 102 patients, all of whom tested negative for Covid-19.

This means that another 131 are still awaiting testing and results.

MOH investigating incident

In light of the serious oversight, MOH will be investigating the incident closely. If they find the lab guilty of breaching regulations, MOH will take “appropriate actions”.

In the meantime, the lab has briefed staff of issues causing the incident and claims that the courier may face “disciplinary action”.

They have also apparently implemented preventive measures including:

  • Colour coding containers to distinguish samples
  • Second verification step for disposal, so 2 individuals will have to sign off before allowing the disposal of samples

Expressing regret over what transpired, Quest Laboratories’ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) maintained that patients’ safety is of utmost importance.

Hope this incident doesn’t occur again

Despite supposedly strict measures, this unfortunately isn’t the first time such a lapse has happened in Singapore.

Hopefully with more stringent measures and supervision, they won’t occur again.

This is a matter of people’s health after all, so let’s hope the relevant parties will be more responsible.

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Featured image adapted from News-Medical.Net.