Ebola Patient's Misdiagnosis Being Reviewed: Hospital

Doctor declines to explain why patient was mistakenly sent home

The head of critical care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital declined to answer questions on Tuesday about why the Ebola patient was mistakenly sent home when he first showed up in the emergency room last month.

Testifying before the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Dr. Gary Weinstein said the misstep is being "thoroughly reviewed" and the results would be announced, but he offered no time line.

The patient, Thomas Duncan, showed up at the Dallas hospital on Sept. 26 with a temperature of 100.1 degrees. He told the nurse he had recently traveled to the United States from Liberia, the hospital has acknowledged, but he was sent home with antibiotics when he would have been most contagious.

Duncan returned to the hospital in an ambulance two days later.

Several dozen people with whom he came into contact are now being monitored for signs they have Ebola. So far, nobody has shown any symptoms.

Last week, the hospital said a "flaw" in its patient information software meant the doctor was not able to see the travel information that the nurse had entered. The hospital later retracted that explanation and has not offered another one.

"With regards to our specific hospital's response to this first case of Ebola virus disease, the events preceding his current admission are being thoroughly reviewed," Weinstein said. "The results of that review will be made available once they're compiled."

The state health commissioner said Texas has a strong response system capable of preventing an Ebola outbreak even though human error is always a possibility.

Health and Human Services Commission executive director Kyle Janek said Texans "should be confident of our ability to get our arms around" the virus.

Weinstein added that the number of governmental agencies involved in the case has presented challenges for medical workers.

He also said Duncan is getting the best care possible now.

"This man is critically ill, has needs that we've never seen before, never had to deal with before. And the team has rallied, figured out how to do it, how to do it safely, and how to do it well and how to do it with pride," Weinstein said.

The entire intensive care unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has been cleared so workers can care for Duncan, he said.

Anything from Duncan's room is being treated with bleach, put into three separate bags and will be destroyed, Weinstein said.

A hospital official told the committee it's paying for Duncan's treatment for now. It was unclear, though, if he'll remain a "charity case."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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