Texas Hospital Where Ebola Victim Died Issues Public Apology

In the wake of the death of Thomas Eric Duncan — the first victim of the 2014 Ebola epidemic to die in the United States — the hospital that misdiagnosed him has released a statement apologizing for their “mistakes.”

Texas Health Resources, which owns the Dallas-based Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, disseminated the apology via a full-page ad in local papers, according to NBC News. In the public letter, the health care organization’s CEO Barclay Berdan made the following claim.

“[T]he fact that Mr. Duncan had traveled to Africa was not communicated effectively among the care team, though it was in his medical chart. On that visit to the Emergency Department, we did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola. For this, we are deeply sorry.”

Duncan went to Texas Health Presbyterian in late September after flying from West Africa. A friend brought him in for treatment after he began exhibiting symptom consistent with Ebola, but Duncan was sent home with antibiotics rather than being admitted for treatment. Two days later, when his symptoms worsened, the afflicted man was brought back to the hospital and put in isolation. He died on October 8, an outcome that might have been avoided had the hospital begun treatment days earlier.

In the letter, Berdan also described the health care system’s efforts to improve operations in light of Duncan’s death, as well as the infections of nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson.

“We have conducted specialized training for taking Personal Protective Equipment on and off, and are using the best practices ‘buddy system’ for staff to monitor proper technique with regard to the Ebola procedures established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We have made changes in our system of electronic medical records to assist in the accurate diagnosis of any future Ebola case.”

The statement is most likely a move to alleviate a mounting public relations crisis for the hospital, which has been described as becoming a “ghost town.” Patients scheduled for procedures are reportedly cancelling their appointments, and people are allegedly even avoiding going to the hospital’s emergency room.

“We’ve been in communication with our doctors that have their private offices in our professional buildings around the campus who are getting 40, 50, 60 percent cancellations just for fear of being somewhere in the geography of the hospital where Ebola is treated,” said Dr. Dan Varga, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital’s chief clinical officer.

What do you think about the Texas hospital’s apology in the wake of the Ebola death of Thomas Eric Duncan? Do you think that U.S. medical facilities are prepared for a domestic outbreak?

[Image via New York Daily News]