Family Of First Ebola Patient Reaches Settlement With Texas Health Presbyterian | KERA News

Family Of First Ebola Patient Reaches Settlement With Texas Health Presbyterian

Nov 12, 2014

A lawyer for the family of the only Ebola patient in the United States to die says the hospital that treated him will create a foundation in his name.

Attorney Les Weisbrod said Wednesday in Dallas that the foundation in honor of Thomas Eric Duncan will help other Ebola victims in West Africa. The foundation is part of a larger settlement that will "take care" of Duncan's four children and his parents, Weisbrod said.

He would not say how much the settlement was worth, saying the terms are confidential.

The family received a letter of apology from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, which is not charging for Duncan's hospitalization.

“We know that this has been a terribly sad, difficult and trying time for Mr. Duncan’s family and friends, and they will continue to be in the hearts and prayers of the entire Texas Health Presbyterian family,” the hospital said in a statement. “We are grateful to reach this point of reconciliation and healing for all involved.”

Duncan died Oct. 8. The Liberian man was initially sent away from the hospital's emergency room with antibiotics, something hospital administrators have acknowledged was a mistake.

The Duncan family wants to make sure what happened to Duncan doesn't happen to anybody else, Weisbrod told reporters.

"The errors in this case happened regardless of race, regardless of insurance coverage," he said. "They happened because of policies and procedures that were not appropriately followed or not appropriately in place."

But Weisbrod said Presbyterian has made changes to prevent this from happening again.

"If we’re going to prevent medical errors from killing people, it requires transparency on the part of the hospitals and it requires a willingness for them to say what it is they did wrong to seek out the root cause and to make changes in their policies and procedures," Weisbrod told reporters. "Texas Health Presbyterian and Texas Health Resources … have to be congratulated and commended on stepping up to the plate. Here what they did is they’ve apologized. They said what went wrong.”

Josephus Weeks, Duncan’s nephew, will work with Texas Health Resources Foundation to seek contributions for the fund being established in Duncan's name. 

"We as humans we are not perfect," Weeks told reporters. "We make errors. But it’s how you recover from the errors that make you who you are. … I want to thank Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital for stepping up and owning up to their mistakes and doing the right thing to make sure it never happens again. That’s an honorable thing to do and I respect them for that."

Duncan's family hopes to see a book or movie produced that explores his life.

Two Presbyterian nurses who treated Duncan became infected with Ebola; they have recovered.

Presbyterian releases statement

Presbyterian officials released the following statement Wednesday morning:

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas today announced that it has amicably resolved all matters with the family of Thomas Eric Duncan.

We know that this has been a terribly sad, difficult and trying time for Mr. Duncan’s family and friends, and they will continue to be in the hearts and prayers of the entire Texas Health Presbyterian family.

As part of the healing process, we have again extended our sincere apologies to the family and shared our regret that the diagnosis of Ebola Virus Disease was not made at the time of Mr. Duncan’s initial Emergency Department visit.  The hospital is honoring Mr. Duncan’s memory by facilitating the creation of the Texas Health Dallas Thomas Eric Duncan Memorial Fund for the express purpose of providing assistance to victims of Ebola in Africa.

Texas Health Dallas greatly appreciates the acknowledgment by the family’s attorney that Mr. Duncan’s inpatient care was excellent. We are grateful to reach this point of reconciliation and healing for all involved.

Today’s resolution with the Duncan family serves as an example of the common-sense Texas laws that allow discussions to take place immediately and be resolved quickly. As a result, healthcare organizations, patients and family members are able to resolve matters fairly and equitably.  

Catch up on KERA’s Ebola coverage here. And explore this timeline of main Ebola events.

Lawmakers consider $6.2 billion in emergency Ebola aid

A Senate committee will be questioning Obama administration officials today about the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak, as lawmakers begin evaluating an administration request for $6.2 billion in emergency aid to fight the disease in West Africa.

Republicans have been critical of the government's security measures at home and how the administration has helped states and hospitals prepare.

Meanwhile, one day after the government in Mali declared no reported cases of Ebola besides one death last month, authorities now say two people died of the virus this week. They say the victims are a Guinea national and a nurse who helped take care of the patient.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ebola in Dallas: A Timeline

Here's a look at some of the main events over the past several weeks. Hover over the right-hand side of the timeline to advance it.