Ohio Officials Ask Hospitals to Cease Using Rape Kits from Long-Time Supplier Due to Possible Contamination

The Ohio Department of Health has asked hospitals throughout the state to immediately stop using sexual assault evidence kits made by a longtime provider because they may be contaminated with DNA from a person involved in assembling them.

Ohio hospitals have complained in the past about occasional problems with the rape kits, which for years have been assembled by Pickaway Diversified Industries located south of Columbus, which employs developmentally disabled people. Complaints that have been made include missing evidence slides, improper biohazard stickers, and the use of envelopes that were not self-sealing.

The Ohio company had been supplying the state's hospitals ever since the early 1990s, when officials decided that standardized kits should be used to collect evidence of sexual assault.

When the kits were first introduced, the DNA tests were not as advanced as they are today, and were unlikely to pick up small traces of "touch" DNA.

State crime lab investigators recently discovered that the kits were contaminated when they attempted to track down a common, unidentified DNA profile that showed up inside of five unrelated kits. According to the Ohio Attorney General's Office, the crime lab is checking to confirm if the DNA belongs to someone who assembled the kits. Officials believe that the contamination was limited, but aren't taking any chances.

Pickaway Diversified Products director Tammy Alvoid says that the state never gave a specific reason for why they cancelled the contract, and said that the company is working with the attorney general's office to help figure out whose DNA may be in the contaminated kits.