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Failure to diagnose may have contributed to Ebola victim's death

Timing can be everything for certain illnesses or injuries. Any delay, whether from a failure to diagnose or negligence in providing adequate care or treatment, can result in far worse than further injury to New Jersey patients -- it can also result in death. While all of the factors in the death of the first patient to bring the deadly Ebola virus to the United States are still unclear, what is known is that he was initially misdiagnosed.

Upon his first visit to an emergency room in another state, the victim was not diagnosed as suffering from Ebola. Instead, he was simply given a prescription for an antibiotic and sent back home. Upon returning to the hospital days later in an ambulance, he finally received the correct diagnosis. Unfortunately, it was apparently too late to save the man. 

The hospital initially stated that one of the nurses that cared for him failed to report his recent trip to one of the areas of Africa currently experiencing an Ebola epidemic. Now, weeks after the man's death, the hospital has also apologized to two nurses who also contracted Ebola while caring for the victim. This may have occurred in the period of time after he was readmitted and before he had actually been diagnosed.

When a patient's body is under attack from a serious illness, the correct diagnosis is usually the first, timely step that must be made. New Jersey patients or their families who have felt the painful sting of a failure to diagnose may be able to sympathize with the family that recently lost their loved one who was unable to receive the correct Ebola treatment in time to save his life. As a time delay can cause such significant damage to a victim, extensive medical bills and long-term lost wages can be serious financial troubles that accompany with such injuries. These damages as well as pain and suffering can be addressed through a medical malpractice claim that, if navigated successfully, may provide the victim or their family with financial damages.

Source:, "Ebola crisis: Texas hospital apologises for failures in handling of first patient", Jon Swaine, Oct. 16, 2014

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Alan D. Bell
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