A patient who showed up at a Dallas area hospital complaining of fever and headache and was misdiagnosed as a potential Ebola case has passed away. However, in the wake of the man’s death, the hospital is still under fire for missing the diagnosis.
According to a fiercehealthcare.com report, the man was initially diagnosed with a low-grade viral infection and was sent home with an antibiotic, despite claims from his sister that he told hospital workers that he had just come back from Liberia.
It appears that a critical piece of information was not shared with healthcare workers, who (in hindsight) should have isolated him to prevent a further outbreak. It is reported that this man may have come into contact with nearly 80 people.
In the meantime, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had sent hospitals a special checklist to prepare for potential Ebola cases. Indeed, hospitals are on the lookout for additional cases. Some are even asking every patient coming to an emergency room or for a scheduled appointment above recent travel overseas.
But for the Texas hospital, it remains to be seen whether a malpractice suit may be raised. After all, hospitals have a duty to use reasonable care in the treatment of patients. Asking additional questions after the man described his symptoms and indicated where he had traveled would have been prudent, and would have fulfilled such a duty. Since doctors were not able to isolate him and treat him early, it will be interesting to see whether this will play a factor in a future lawsuit.