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Was the Failure to Admit the Dallas Ebola Patient Medical Malpractice?
The news media has been buzzing about the international Ebola outbreak. Americans have become particularly alarmed since the disease jumped the Atlantic Ocean when an infected man from Liberia arrived in Dallas, Texas.
When handling such an infectious and deadly disease as Ebola, the utmost care is necessary from medical professionals. The mistakes and spreading infections following the initial victim’s experience at Dallas’ Texas Presbyterian hospital has only added to the confusion and near hysteria among some corners of the public.
Could the Dallas Hospital Be Held Liable for Medical Malpractice?
Some have argued that by failing to admit Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan on September 25, 2014, the hospital engaged in medical malpractice (either under a legal standard or at least under some common sense standard). And by failing to admit Duncan, some have argued that the hospital could be liable to his estate (now that Mr. Duncan has passed away from Ebola), and to anyone he infected before Duncan was finally hospitalized three days later. Duncan was sent home with antibiotics, apparently because the hospital believed Duncan had the flu.
Texas Governor Rick Perry said that mistakes had been made at the Dallas hospital. Additionally, hospital spokesmen have indicated that Duncan did in fact disclose to a nurse at the hospital that he had recently come from Liberia, which is one of the areas heavily affected by the disease.
However, the ability to sue medical providers for malpractice can fluctuate depending on the circumstances of the injury as well as the jurisdiction in which the injury occurs. In Texas, Duncan’s estate would have to demonstrate that the hospital acted in a “willfully and wantonly negligent” manner, which means that the activity would have to be extremely reckless.
In this case, bringing a lawsuit could be difficult because it would be hard to determine what exactly was the “proximate cause” of the death (whether it was the fault of the patient or the hospital directly). It is not readily known if it would be negligent to miss an Ebola diagnosis considering that no Ebola case had ever emerged in the United States before Duncan.
It may come down to a question as to whether there was a legal “duty of care” to recognize such an unusual disease, whether the hospital violated that duty, and if this was the proximate cause of an injury or death. Determining a clear line of legal liability may not be very easy to prove.
Contact Experienced Attorneys for Injury or Accident Claims
Where there are serious personal injuries that may be the result of another’s negligence, it is important to consider your legal rights as the ability to pursue legal claims may be limited.
If you have questions or concerns about a recent accident or an injury that may have been caused by the negligence of another, contact the experienced attorneys at the Mike Walker Law in Clearwater now.