Hospital Official: Ebola Patient’s Travel Not Relayed To Doctors

October 1, 2014

An official from the Texas hospital where the first U.S. Ebola patient is being treated says a nurse using a checklist for the disease learned that he had traveled from West Africa, but that the information was “not communicated” to doctors making the diagnosis.

Dr. Martin Lester, of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, told reporters at a news conference this afternoon that as a result of the miscommunication, the team of physicians evaluating the patient concluded at the time he was first examined at the hospital on Friday that he suffered from a “low-grade common viral disease.”

The patient told a hospital nurse that he had traveled from Liberia, a fact that could have figured into the diagnosis, but “regretfully that information was not communicated to the full team,” Lester said, referring to the diagnosing physicians. The man, who returned to the hospital on Sunday, subsequently tested positive for Ebola and was placed in isolation.

Lester, who appeared with Gov. Rick Perry, Dr. David Lakey, the commissioner of the Department of State Health Services, and other officials, described the condition of the patient, whose name has not been released, as “serious but stable.”

Perry lauded Texas Health Presbyterian as among one of the best hospitals in the world to meet the challenge the Ebola case presents.

“This case is serious,” Perry said. “Rest assured that our system is working as it should.”

The governor, who called the Ebola case an “all hands on deck” situation, said that a handful of school-aged children who had contact with the patient were being monitored.

Dr. Lakey echoed Perry’s praise of the hospital staff, saying they were “doing a great job” and providing “top-notch care.”

Lakey emphasized, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others have, that Ebola is not easily transmitted from person to person.

“It’s not going to be transmitted through the air or the water,” he said. “It’s not going to be transmitted through casual contact.

“This is not West Africa,” he added. “This is a very sophisticated city, a very sophisticated hospital.”

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