Mistakes at Texas Hospital over Ebola Are a Lesson for the Rest of the Country
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas had a good reputation before a patient died of the Ebola virus there. Now the headlines refer to mistakes and possible lawsuits.
What has happened at this respected hospital is raising questions elsewhere in the county about how well hospitals could deal with Ebola. It’s not just a case of what-if. In Virginia a patient is being evaluated in Richmond as the city’s first potential Ebola victim.
An article in USA Today referred to a “string of possible missteps” in Dallas, that have raised serious questions whether other, lesser-equipped hospitals are ready to deal with an Ebola outbreak.
In Dallas, a hospital nurse, Nina Pham, 26, tested positive for the virus over the weekend and is being treated in isolation at the hospital. The spotlight is on the hospital after the release of an original Ebola patient – Thomas Eric Duncan.
USA Today reported on how Mr. Duncan had checked himself into the hospital’s emergency room on Sept. 25. He told staff he had recently been in Africa and complained of abdominal pain and fever, clear signs that he may have had Ebola. After being checked out by doctors, he was prescribed antibiotics, told to take Tylenol and released. A failure to diagnose is often a clear case of medical malpractice, although Texas has laws that are unfavorable to medical malpractice claims.
Releasing Mr. Duncan was apparently not the only mistake made by the hospital. In a statement on Oct. 2 statement, the hospital said Duncan had a temperature of “100.1” and that his symptoms were described as “not severe.” However, medical records later provided to the Associated Press showed a fever of 103 and that he had reported suffering from “severe pain.”
Duncan was readmitted to the hospital Sept. 28, put in isolation and died at the hospital 10 days later.
“Everyone’s watching and everyone’s going to learn by their mistakes,” Robert Murphy, a professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine with experience in working with infectious diseases told USA Today.
There are also alarming unanswered questions about how a nurse was infected with Ebola. Pham, who was caring for Duncan during his second hospital visit, contracted the Ebola virus, despite wearing protective gear such as gloves, gown and mask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking into the matter. Even President Obama has called for an investigation to find out how Pham contracted the disease.
The World Health Organization has estimated the Ebloa death toll has risen internationally to 4,447, reported the BBC.
Duncan was the first Ebola patient treated at a hospital outside one of the nation’s four bio-containment units specially-equipped to handle patients with deadly, infectious diseases. His treatment alarms me as a Virginia medical malpractice attorney.
WHAT IS THE EBOLA VIRUS?
Ebola, is previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever. It’s a potentially deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).
Symptoms include a fever of more than 101.5 F, a severe headache, vomiting and unexplained hemorrhage. Diarrhoea, vomiting, a rash, pain in the stomach and impaired kidney and liver function follow before severe internal bleeding, and the patient may also bleed from the ears, eyes, nose or mouth.
If you have been injured or infected due to a mistake at a hospital, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077 or see CooperHurley.com.