On Monday morning several people are waiting outside the clinic Husdr.se next to Kronhusbodarna in the centre of Gothenburg to get tested for covid-19. The corridor just inside the door is narrow, so to avoid crowding patients are asked to wait in their cars. There is no waiting room.
Many of the people waiting have in common that they are planning to travel abroad. The countries they are going to visit asks for a negative test result from a so called PCR-test, and the results need to be fresh. Different countries have different rules, but the requirement is usually that the test can not be older than 24 hours when it is due to be shown at the border.
On the clinics homepage they offer a number of different tests. The most expensive one costs 2 690 SEK, equivalent to approximately 250 euro, and guarantees a result within two hours. The other PCR-tests for a travelling certificate cost a bit less and guarantee response in four, nine and 24 hours.
Lots of people waiting for their turn
The patient is swabbed in the nose with a cotton bud. The travel certificate, which includes the results of the test, is then sent out via email after the payment has been made via the mobile phone payment service Swish right after the test.
In the travel certificates sent out to the customers it has previously been stated that their tests have been analysed at one of Sweden’s largest labs, Unilabs, which analyses tests for, among others, the public health care in the Gothenburg and Stockholm regions.
But Unilabs state that they have not analysed a single test taken by Husdr.se.
When Göteborgs-Posten’s reporter walks into the clinic to have a test done a woman in blue health care clothing and visor says they are very busy. At least five other people have been tested on the Monday morning before our reporter, and several others are waiting for their turn.
The reason we are here is that we know that the clinic have previously printed documents that, according to Unilabs, are false. Documents that people in good faith have used to be able to travel abroad.
– Are you travelling? the woman in the blue clothing asks.
A cotton bud is stuck into the reporter’s nose and pulled out again after a few seconds.
– All done!
– Yes. The certificate will be sent via email.
Lab manager met with a lie
Inge Andersson, manager for the Swedish division of Unilabs, found out last week that the clinic claims that their tests have been analysed by them. He then went to Gothenburg to confront the people responsible.
– They then claimed that it was a misunderstanding, that the tests in fact had been analysed at Tataa Biocenter in Gothenburg, says Inge Andersson.
But the test have not been analysed at Tataa Biocenter either.
– No, the only contact we have had with the clinic is via an email they sent to us with a request to analyse tests. But we have not analysed a single one of their tests, says Mikael Kubista, CEO at Tataa Biocenter when he speaks to Göteborgs-Posten.
After Unilabs confronted the clinic the laboratory has got in contact with ”more than ten” patients who the last month have received certificates that falsely claims to be certified by them.
Aside of these cases, Göteborgs-Posten are aware of other people who have got tested at the clinic and received certificates based on analyses made by Unilabs. Among others Göteborgs-Posten used the clinic’s services at the end of December to be able to send a team to report from the landslide in Norwegian Gjerdrum.
On the certificates Göteborgs-Posten employees received after getting tested is stated ”Certified Laboratory: UNILABS”.
The certificates also have a stamp from the Swedish authority Swedac, who gives accreditation to laboratories. And under the stamp Unilab’s unique accreditation number is printed.
– I do not know how they got hold of that stamp, but of course it is not okey that they use it, says Inge Andersson.
Unilabs have reported the clinic to the police
At the end of last week Unilabs states that they have reported the clinic, which is still open, to the police.
About two hours after Göteborgs-Posten’s reporter has been tested on the Monday morning the travel certificate arrives. The document, signed by the doctor responsible, shows a negative result for covid-19. This certificate also carries the words: ”Certified Laboratory: UNILABS”.
Despite the fact that the test has been taken after the confrontation made by the Unilabs manager the clinic continues to use the labs name on their certificates.
When Göteborgs-Posten informs Inge Andersson he first goes silent. A few seconds later he says:
– So he continues... It is damn annoying from my perspecitve, since I have been there to speak to him.
What do you think about the clinic continuing to state the tests have been analysed by you?
– I do not think I should say what I am thinking right now, but it is not professional and he does not have a right to do that.
After Göteborgs-Posten receives the last travel document we return to the clinic and ask to speak to the doctor responsible, who is also a board member for the company. The personnel says he is not there, but a while later he appears in the stairwell outside the testing room.
The doctor describes the testing as a success and says that for the past month they have carried out between 15 and 20 samples every day that are sent for analysis.
– Many people who come are travellers, he says.
The doctor says that the tests are analyzed by Unilabs and at the regional university hospital Sahlgrenska’s virology department.
– We have approximately 15 to 20 tests per weekday and then we use Unilabs in Skövde. Then we have the virology department at Sahlgrenska. We have also been in contact with Tataa biocenter about starting up with them, he says.
Unilab claims they have not analysed a single one of your tests?
– Okey, I can show you the agreement we have with Unilabs. We are in contact with them.
The doctor confirmes that a man visited the clinic last week and said that he was ”head of the Swedish division” of Unilabs. The doctor continues to say that the man did not have identification and that the doctor afterwards made contact with Unilabs in Gothenburg.
– They could not establish who he was, the doctor says.
Göteborgs-Posten have been in contact with the person at Unilabs in Gothenburg the doctor refers to. She does not want to comment and redirects us to her manager – Inge Andersson.
– I showed my id very clearly. What he says is not correct, Inge Andersson says when he finds out about the doctor’s statements.
When Göteborgs-Posten asks the doctor at Husdr.se why they claim that their travel certificates are certified by Unilabs he says that they do not write that.
We have a certificate here and it says ”Certified labratory: Unilabs”.
– Ah I see what you mean. It is a registered lab, the doctor says.
When he sees the certificate he says that there may have been a mistake, that the test in fact has been analysed at Sahlgrenska.
– It might be the case that they just have not changed it to SU, he says and adds that the person at the clinic simply wrote the wrong lab.
The doctor says that he needs to talk to Unilabs to sort out the issue, to be able to track where the patients sample in fact was analysed.
Only told them how to label the tests
According to Inge Andersson there is nothing to discuss, since Unilab never has received any samples from the clinic. Regarding the agreement the doctor refers to Inge Andersson confirms that they previously have agreed to start a cooperation.
– We have the first section of a pricelist completed and have also said that we would be willing to accept them as a client, but it is a long process. I think they have been informed about how to mark the samples, but they have not received access to our transport services.
Up until Friday the clinic could theoretically have sent tests to Unilab if they had driven them by car or taxi themselves.
– Yes, up until then they could have, but they have not, not a single test. We have double and triple-checked, Inge Andersson says.
Sahlgrenska did not analyse the samples
When Göteborgs-Posten went to the facilities where Husdr.se tests their patients the doctor claims that the tests have been analysed by Unilabs and Sahlgrenska.
To control if, as the doctor claims, there has been a mistake when the three of the certificates Göteborgs-Posten has seen were issued, we ask the personnel at Sahlgrenska’s lab to control if they have carried out the analyses.
A few minutes after we have given them the patients date of birth Magnus Lindh, section manager and professor in clinical microbiology at Sahlgrenska, calls back.
– There are no samples from those patients at our lab.
According to Magnus Lindh they can not find any samples at Sahlgrenska that have been handed in from Husdr.se.
– We do not seem to have this client in our register. We have client numbers and when we search for Husdr.se and their specific organisation number we can not find them as a client in our registers.
The clinic cannot personally submit the tests to you?
– No, not this client, that would consist of his business name and organisation number.
GP tries to get in touch with doctor in charge at Husdr.se
The doctor who manages Husdr.se refers to an agent for further questions. The agent responds via email on Tuesday evening that Husdr.se has an agreement with Unilab since the end of June.
He writes that ”the PCR-tests taken have been sent via an employed courier to Unilabs Calanderska and have been handed in through the sampling hatch”.
The agent states that they ”maintain that every test taken has been analysed by the above mentioned companies”, in other words Unilabs and Sahlgrenska. They also claim that the test results have been notified by phone.
Inge Andersson at Unilabs tells Göteborgs-Posten that on the previous night, the Monday, someone handed in 40 samples at Calanderska. They were accompanied by a handwritten note, but had no information about healthcare provider and did not have either referral or order.
– It was an attempt to push in a number of samples last night. But that is the first and only time, he says.
He explains that Unilabs managed to figure out that the samples came from Husdr.se because of the events the last few days. Otherwise they would not know where they came from, but according to Unilabs, they har been able to confirm with Husdr.se via phone. The lab has not analysed the tests, but told the clinic they can come and get them again, if they can show valid dates of birth for the samples.
– Samples cannot be handled in this way, it is unlawful. Just a bunch of test tubes with dates of birth, you simply cannot do that, Inge Andersson says.
Regarding the statement from the clinic that Unilabs may have failed to register samples, he responds:
– We can not register samples we have not received. If we had not registered them then it is even harder to receive test results from us. And he has handed out test results to his patients.