A healthcare insurance company for members of the US Military was forced to apologize after accidentally telling more than 600,000 people they had tested positive for coronavirus.
The erroneous announcement came as part of a email sent out by Tricare, a health care program of the United States Department of Defense, to hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries located in its East Region on July 17.
The military health system was asking the ‘COVID-19 survivors’ to consider donating blood plasma for research regarding a potential treatment for the virus.
‘As a survivor of COVID-19, it’s safe to donate whole blood or blood plasma, and your donation could help other COVID-19 patients. Your plasma likely has antibodies (or proteins) present that might help fight the coronavirus infection,’ Tricare’s message read.
‘Currently, there is no cure for COVID-19. However, there is information that suggests plasma from COVID-19 survivors, like you, might help some patients recover more quickly from COVID-19.’
However only 31,000 people associated with the US Military have tested positive for the coronavirus, far less than the 600,000 recipients of the company’s email.
Tricare’s message came as a surprise and prompted confusion for a number of its beneficiaries, Military.com reported.
‘Just wondering [if] anybody [got] an email from Tricare saying since you are a COVID survivor, please donate your plasma?? I have NOT been tested,’ wrote one perplexed beneficiary on Facebook. ‘Just remember all those people inputting data are human and make mistakes.’
Humana Military, the company that manages Tricare’s East Region, issued a call to blood donors located near military installations that are collecting plasma from recovered coronavirus patients as a potential treatment for the illness.
However, the message was accidentally sent to every beneficiary located near to a blood collection point in 31 states.
Six hours later, Humana sent out a correction, apologizing for any alarm caused by the message.
‘In an attempt to educate beneficiaries who live close to convalescent plasma donation centers about collection opportunities, you received an email incorrectly suggesting you were a COVID-19 survivor,’ the correction email read.
‘You have not been identified as a COVID-19 survivor and we apologize for the error and any confusion it may have caused.’
Marvin Hill, a spokesperson for the firm, later offered a more comprehensive explanation behind the error to Military.com.
‘Language used in email messages to approximately 600k beneficiaries gave the impression that we were attempting to reach only people who had tested positive for COVID-19,’ Hill said.
‘We quickly followed the initial email with a clear and accurate second message acknowledging this. We apologize.’
Similar errors have been made by a number of other healthcare entities since the pandemic began three months ago, further fueling confusion about an individuals’ COVID-19 status, as well as infection rates.
Earlier this month, Brock Ballou of Nashville said he received at least three calls from the state of Tennessee regarding his apparent symptoms after testing for coronavirus.
Ballo, however, said he was never sick and was never tested.
Two weeks ago, in Florida, the State Health Department confirmed that some testing laboratories in the state have not been disclosing their negative coronavirus testing results accurately, skewing positivity rates.
At least two labs were discovered to have inflated their positivity rates of the virus by a factor of ten, the Daily Wire reported.