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Human error

A public post of Jonathan Espinosa went viral after it was shared in the news line-up of Digicast Negros over the weekend. He is an LSI who reportedly tested negative and was sent home. That homecoming was short lived though, after he was informed belatedly that he was after all positive and had to return to the quarantine facility.

It was a case of human error.

But when Digicast posted the story, there were netizens who commented that they had similar experiences and I know too of several cases where swabs got misplaced or they never got their results back.

By the way, Digicast is the newest online news platform in town that was established by former ABS-CBN news reporters – Barbara Mijares, Marty Go, Romeo Subaldo and Martian Muyco. Despite the minimal resources, these guys are making waves by delivering up-to-date news around town which just shows that journalism runs through their bloodstream.

In his narration, Jonathan arrived in Bacolod last Monday, and was immediately swabbed and quarantined with three other LSIs at ETCS 4. Thursday, they were informed that all of them roommates tested negative and they should prepare for release the following day.

Friday, Espinosa was released to his family with discharge papers for the barangay. That night though, the barangay informed him that he was positive and will have to return to the quarantine facility.

Jonathan called up the nurse-in-charge at the facility who also insisted that she was informed he was negative and will refer the matter back to the doctor. Soon, the nurse called again and told him, that indeed, he was positive on their data base.

Jonathan is back in the facility but was angry because that mistake cost his family to be placed on lockdown. And more so because his mother who just had an operation, requires a follow-up check, which may not be possible in the next two weeks because of the lockdown. I just hope Jonathan did not spread the virus to other family members in the short time he was with them.

Human error cannot be avoided because no one can negate that our frontliners are overworked and over-utilized beyond their usual hours of duty. Our Department of Health has committed a lot of errors in reporting cases that they even resurrected and declared ‘recovered’ those who died of COVID-19.

In fact, our city government had to ask the national administration to send additional manpower to augment our tired work force because their effort to hire locally was unsuccessful.

But Espinosa’s anger is also understandable because he put his family at risk when he went home thinking he was okay. I am pretty sure hugs went around in his homecoming and to find out hours later that you are positive must have been a great burden on his part especially with a recovering mom at home.

While we can put this incident down as mere human error, it also shows how flawed the system is despite months of practice.

Our officials ought to be thankful that it was just hours before the Espinosa error was corrected. What if it wasn’t caught in time and he exposed more people outside of his immediate family thinking that he was safe anyway. What about his quarantine roommates who were sent home to their families but were exposed for three days with Espinosa?

There are even worse cases where those who were swabbed never got their results back as in the case of my friend’s father who died as a COVID suspect. He was swabbed before he expired but his results never came back. My friend who followed it up with the hospital, the City Health Office, and even at the regional level came back empty handed as no one could tell her what happened to their father’s test.

There was this case too of one who tested positive and was placed on quarantine. His family was never visited by any health personnel for swabbing as probable contacts. But understanding the risk of exposure, they went on quarantine on their own.

Or another case where a group of employees got tested and apart from one, all received their negative results. That person continued his self-quarantine waiting for his results. Two weeks later and still no results, they followed it up with the lab who told them that results will officially be released only by the CHO.

When they reached the proper channels, they found out that officially he was positive but since the mandatory 14-day quarantine period has passed, they will tag him now as recovered.

These and more are the reasons why a lot of people are hesitant to be tested or would rather pay premium to be swabbed by Red Cross or other private labs since they can get their results accurately and faster as well.

Human error is unintentional. Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran said he will have the Espinosa matter investigated, not because we want heads to roll, but because there is a need to know where the system breakdown is and correct it.*

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April 2021

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