Hospital Official: Ebola Patient's Travel Not Relayed To Doctors
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."
Update at 5:58 p.m. ET. Patient Aided Woman With Ebola:
The New York Times, which is naming the Texas patient with Ebola, reports the man helped a pregnant woman with Ebola get to the hospital in Liberia.
The Times reports:
"In a pattern often seen here in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, the family of the woman, Marthalene Williams, 19, took her by taxi to a hospital with [the man's] help on Sept. 15 after failing to get an ambulance, said her parents, Emmanuel and Amie Williams. She was convulsing and seven months pregnant, they said.
"Turned away from a hospital for lack of space in its Ebola treatment ward, the family said it took Ms. Williams back home in the evening, and that she died hours later, around 3 a.m.
"[The man], who was a family friend and also a tenant in a house owned by the Williams family, rode in the taxi in the front passenger seat while Ms. Williams, her father and her brother, Sonny Boy, shared the back seat, her parents said. [The man] then helped carry Ms. Williams, who was no longer able to walk, back to the family home that evening, neighbors said."
The Wall Street Journal, which is also naming the man, cited acquaintances saying by the time the man went to the hospital a second time, it was in an ambulance.
Officials with the CDC said earlier that when the man boarded the plane, he was showing no symptoms. The officials said there "zero risk of transmission" to fellow passengers.
NPR has not independently confirmed the name, so we've left it out of this post.