23andMe's DNA Mixup Leaves 96 Customers With Wrong Test Results
On Friday, the company announced that "a number of new 23andMe customer samples were incorrectly processed" by the third-party lab that conducts the DNA tests, and confessed that "up to" 96 people received test results that weren't really theirs. As you can imagine, mass confusion ensued. In a recent post on the company's message board, one affected woman wrote about mistakenly believing that her son had hemochromatosis, which she found strange, since neither she nor her husband were carriers. She was so bewildered, in fact, that she even began questioning whether or not her son had been mistakenly switched with someone else at birth.
Chances are, the mix-up occurred as a result of an absent-minded lab worker, who probably grabbed the wrong 96-well tray of samples. It's worth noting, then, that the snafu isn't entirely 23andMe's fault, since it was, after all, the lab that erred. And the company should probably be commended for its openness about a consumer relations crisis that many companies may have tried to cover up.
Yet, it was still the company's responsibility to deliver the results, and to ensure that those results were valid. As Genetic Future points out, a sizable number of customers have flooded the site with complaints about how long it took 23andMe to explain itself, and about how some mistakes (like incorrectly labeled genders) could've easily been caught at first glance.
The main question going forward, however, is what measures 23andMe will now implement to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again. In a statement, the company has assured the public that it is "putting additional procedures in place that will add an extra layer of safeguards," and that it is considering the adoption of "a process that would include removing manual steps at the lab, completely automating the sample analyses, and implementing further checks of the data before it gets loaded into customer accounts." But, in light of the recent controversy surrounding non-federally approved, at-home DNA tests, 23andMe's careless error may only provide more impetus for stringent regulation, and, perhaps, government intervention. [From: GeneticFuture, via: TechCrunch]