Some negative patients may have coronavirus, treated like positive cases

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MIDLAND-ODESSA, Tx. (KOSA) - As hospitals in Midland and Odessa continue to tally up the positive cases sent back from the labs, doctors worry there’s more than meets the eye

You would expect that when a test comes back as positive or negative that’s it, questions answered.

However, doctors have found that some of people who tested negative might actually have the virus after all and it’s worrying some staff members

Several hospital staff members have contacted CBS7 telling us they’re worried these false negative patients could pose a threat to them and others.

So we talked to medical leaders from all three hospitals in Midland-Odessa to understand how they handle these patients.

“I’d say I understand the concern,” Midland Memorial Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Larry Wilson said. “I think as we can do we have done I think a really remarkable job of setting up space to cohort the patients that we think are at risk of having the virus and shedding the virus.”

MCH, ORMC and MMH all explained similar procedures they go through if they suspect a negative result is wrong.

They all said physicians judge how closely the patient’s symptoms match that of a COVID patient. For instance, having a fever, respiratory issues and shortness of breath.

“And based on that the doctor will decide yes this person still should be treated,” ORMC Chief Medical Officer Rohith Saravanan said. “Yes, this person should be isolated etc. etc.”

MCH said patients in this circumstance will continue to get treatment in an isolated ward the same way they would if they had tested positive.

“That’s where treating the symptoms, or identifying the symptoms, can be just as important as looking at a test,” MCH Interim CMO and Chief of Staff Dr. Donald Davenport said.

However, where it does get tricky is for mild cases quarantined at home.

There it comes down to whether a patient believes a doctor’s suspicion about the results.

“If their physician or nurse practitioner says ‘Hhey we suspect you have it and you are, that your test is negative we still recommend that you stay quarantined for 14 days,’” Davenport said. “That’s really up to the patients as to whether they’ll follow those rules.”

As for the hospital staffs, Wilson said those suspicious cases are watched closely in the most isolated wards.

But even still, the chance of getting exposed never goes away.

“As you work in a hospital setting there’s going to be some risk of exposure, there’s no question about it,” he said.

As for how many people could have falsely negative, doctors say they can’t offer a guess based on what they’ve seen so far.