Questions also still remain about the events that led to Duncan's release from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas Sept. 26, despite Duncan informing healthcare personnel of his recent travel to Liberia, one of three African countries most affected by the worst outbreak of the virus ever recorded. Duncan was brought back to the hospital two days later when his condition worsened, and placed in isolation, where he remained until his death Wednesday.
Testifying before a state senate health committee Tuesday, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas Chief of Critical Care Dr. Gary Weinstein did not provide lawmakers with an explanation as to why Duncan was discharged, saying that the results of a full review were forthcoming.
“The events preceding his current admission are being thoroughly reviewed,” Weinstein said. “The results of that review will be made available once they're compiled.”
Weinstein did not provide a timeline to lawmakers as to when the results of the review might be released.
The communication situation in Dallas played out very differently than a similar incident earlier this year in Indiana involving a healthcare facility suddenly faced with the prospect of treating a patient suspected of having a another type of deadly infectious disease.
In April, when a man who had flu-like symptoms was examined at Community Hospital in Munster, Ind., hospital staff were able to quickly identify him as having Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, the first case of the deadly illness diagnosed in the U.S.
A rapid response that included daily communication updates to the media on the patient's condition, how he came to the hospital, and what healthcare personnel were doing to ensure public safety all helped to lessen community concerns over the facility's ability to effectively contain the spread of the disease.
In response to requests for comment, Texas Health Friday issued the following statement:
“Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas continues to closely review and evaluate the chain of events related to the first Ebola virus diagnosis in the United States. At the same time, we have made changes to our intake process as well as other procedures to better screen for all critical indicators of Ebola virus. In addition, Spohn Memorial in Corpus Christi today reached out to us about our experience and learnings. We briefed them and will continue to make our professionals available to any health system diagnosing potential new cases of Ebola.
“The nurses, doctors and team who cared for Mr. Duncan, as well as the entire Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas community, grieve his death. We are committed to providing the best possible care to every patient we see, and to sharing our experiences and learnings in managing this insidious disease with the broader health care community.”
Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHsjohnson