Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas, the hospital that treated the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the US, has for the first time apologised for mishandling the case.
Early reports indicated that the hospital sent Thomas Eric Duncan home with antibiotics the first time he sought care, even though he mentioned that he was recently in Liberia, one of the countries at the epicentre of the worst Ebola outbreak in history. By the time Duncan returned to the emergency room, his symptoms had worsened considerably and many more people had been exposed to the virus.
Here’s a portion of the testimony that will be delivered from Dr. Daniel Varga, the hospital’s chief clinical officer, to a congressional oversight committee on Thursday:
It’s hard for me to put into words how we felt when our patient Thomas Eric Duncan lost his struggle with Ebola on October 8. It was devastating to the nurses, doctors, and team who tried so hard to save his life. We keep his family in our thoughts and prayers. Unfortunately, in our initial treatment of Mr. Duncan, despite our best intentions and a highly skilled medical team, we made mistakes. We did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola. We are deeply sorry.
Still, Varga maintains that once Duncan was admitted, he was “treated with the most appropriate and available medical interventions.”
Varga goes on to note that “in our effort to communicate to the public quickly and transparently, we inadvertently provided some information that was inaccurate,” something that he acknowledges must have been “unsettling to a community that was already concerned and confused.”
The hospital is still unsure how two of its healthcare workers became infected with the virus.
The testimony highlights several “lessons learned and steps taken” since the hospital’s experience with Ebola. Texas Presbyterian will now take take a travel history in the emergency room from a patient’s “first point of contact” with staff. The hospital will also take a more “proactive, intensive” approach to training staff to deal with Ebola, rather than simply communicating guidelines.
“We are determined to be an agent for change across the US healthcare system by helping our peers benefit from our experience,” Varga says.
We first saw this reported by Janet St. James.
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