Family of Dallas Ebola victim reaches settlement with hospital

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 12, 2014 12:19 PM

By Lisa Maria Garza

DALLAS (Reuters) - The family of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to die of Ebola in the United States, said on Wednesday it had reached a settlement with the hospital that had treated him and admitted to making mistakes in addressing his care.

Family lawyer Les Weisbrod told reporters the hospital "wanted to do the right thing." Details of the deal were not released and the family will not be billed for his care, he said.

Hospital officials said a settlement had been reached but have not provided details.

A suit against the Dallas hospital faced long odds due to the state's regulations on malpractice suits that have made it one of the hardest places in the United States to sue over medical errors, especially those that occur in the emergency room, according to plaintiffs’ lawyers and legal experts.

Duncan, a Liberian national who recently arrived in the United States, first sought treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in late September, telling staff he had come from Liberia, one of three West African countries hit hardest by the Ebola outbreak there.

Two days after he was discharged, Duncan had to be carted back to the same hospital by ambulance, and became the first person in the United States to be diagnosed with the virus. He was placed in an isolation unit and died 10 days after being admitted, with teams of medical staff tending to his care.

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Two nurses who treated Duncan, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, both contracted Ebola and later recovered.

The hospital apologized to Duncan's family for not being able to save his life and said it made a mistake by initially discharging him.

The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 4,900 people so far this year, most of them in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Doina Chiacu)