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Did hospital changes to prevent diagnosis errors came too late?

By now, most everyone in New Jersey has heard about the death of the first victim of Ebola in the United States. Recently, details came to light that diagnosis errors occurred the first time he went to the emergency room. The hospital says it has made changes in its procedures in an attempt to avoid the same mistakes that occurred with him while continuing to assess what went wrong in his case.

Records reflect that the man informed hospital personnel that he had recently been in one of the countries currently plagued by an outbreak of Ebola. Somehow, that information never was sufficiently communicated to the attending physician. However, it appears that was not the only error that occurred on his first visit to the hospital.

During that visit, the man's fever rose to 103 degrees, and his pain index was eight out of 10. When combined with his other symptoms, there is some question as to why the man was sent home that night. Nevertheless, after a battery of tests, the doctor decided to send the man home with a prescription for antibiotics and advised him to take Tylenol for his pain. 

Even if it had not turned out that the man contracted Ebola after arriving in Dallas from Liberia, the man's symptoms may have warranted further examination and at least a night in the hospital. New Jersey residents may agree that the diagnosis errors that occurred in his initial treatment may be considered negligent. If the family decides to file a medical malpractice claim based on the events, it will be necessary to prove that the party or parties involved were negligent.

Source: leadertelegram.com, "Ebola victim's nephew: Hospital care either 'incompetent or negligent'", Oct. 10, 2014

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