Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas, the hospital that treated the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States, is for the first time apologizing for "mistakes" in handling the case.
In testimony submitted to
the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight subcommittee for a Thursday hearing on the public health response to the Ebola outbreak, Dr. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer, told the panel "We are deeply sorry."
"Unfortunately, in our initial treatment of Mr. [Thomas Eric] Duncan, despite our best intentions and a highly skilled medical team, we made mistakes," his statement declares. "We did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola."
"Also, in our effort to communicate to the public quickly and transparently, we inadvertently provided some information that was inaccurate and had to be corrected. No doubt that was unsettling to a community that was already concerned and confused, and we have learned from that experience as well."
Initial reports revealed the hospital sent Duncan home with antibiotics the first time he sought care
– even though he mentioned he was recently in Liberia, one of the countries at the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 4,000 people.
By the time Duncan returned to the emergency room, his symptoms had worsened considerably and many more people had been exposed to the virus.
TV news reporter Janet St. James first tweeted news of the apology.
"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," Varga's testimony stated. "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."
But Varga stated once Duncan was admitted, he was "treated with the most appropriate and available medical interventions." He acknowledged, however, the hospital still doesn't know exactly how two of its nurses
became infected with the virus.
The testimony highlights several "lessons learned and steps taken" since the hospital's experience with Ebola, Varga insisted.
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, he stated.
"We are determined to be an agent for change across the U.S. healthcare system by helping our peers benefit from our experience," Varga said.
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