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Hospital's failure to diagnose Ebola may have far-reaching effect

Medical malpractice and hospital negligence cases can be tragic even when one only victim and his or her loved ones are affected by the error. Rarely does a case of possible medical malpractice that happens in South Carolina or another state have the potential to affect the entire country or even beyond the U.S. borders. But this potential unfortunately now does exist due to an error made in a U.S. hospital.

Multiple workers dispensing aid to the ill in West Africa returned to the U.S. for treatment for the Ebola virus. Those workers were kept carefully quarantined to avoid any potential spread of the disease to other U.S. citizens. But a man who came to U.S. from Liberia seeking treatment at an emergency room about a week after his arrival was released due to a failure to diagnose him with the virus. The man has now been admitted for treatment to the same hospital, but only after being in contact with others for 10 days after entering the country.

 

A representative of the health care system where the failure to diagnose the man took place said that his release was due to a misinterpretation of communications among hospital staff.

The governor of the state has now become involved in the situation, releasing information that the infected man has potentially been in contact with up to 18 people, including five children and an ambulance crew that took him back to the hospital two days after his release.

In many cases where hospital neglect has occurred, the patient affected and his or loved ones may be entitled to compensation for the effects of the error. But given the potential of the rapid infection rate associated with this deadly virus, the number of people affected may ffar exceed the coffers of any medical malpractice insurance carrier.

Source: Washington Post, "Texas Ebola patient told hospital of travel from West Africa but was released," Mark Berman, Oct. 1, 2014

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