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Ebola Patient Duncan Got 'High Level' of Care, Hospital Says

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Thomas Eric Duncan, who died from Ebola Wednesday, got the best care possible, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said Thursday.

In its most complete statement yet, the hospital addresses a series of criticisms about Duncan’s care, including questions about experimental treatments.

“Mr. Duncan’s physicians treated him with the most appropriate and available medical interventions, including the investigative antiviral drug brincidofovir,” the hospital said in the statement. “After consulting with experts across the country, the CDC, and the FDA, the investigative drug was administered as soon as his physicians determined that his condition warranted it, and as soon as it could be obtained. Mr. Duncan was the first Ebola patient to receive this drug.”

Critics have asked why Duncan did not get more when the other Ebola patients treated in the U.S. got either an experimental drug called ZMapp, or transfusions of blood serum from Ebola survivors, or both.

“The drug ZMapp was not administered to Mr Duncan because it was not available. According to the CDC and the drug manufacturer, it has not been available since August 12, 2014,” the hospital answered.

“Mr. Duncan did not receive the same type of serum transfusion as the patient in Nebraska because his blood type was not compatible with the serum donors.”

"Our care team provided Mr. Duncan with the same high level of attention and care that would be given any patient."

What he did get was wall-to-wall care, the hospital said.

“A team of more than 50 people cared for him in a professional and compassionate manner,” it said. “An entire 24-bed intensive care unit was secured and dedicated to Mr. Duncan’s care. The treatment area remains sealed and is being aggressively decontaminated.”

The hospital has also been widely criticized for having sent Duncan home the first time he came in feeling ill. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say anyone with Duncan’s symptoms — fever and abdominal pain — with recent travel to Liberia should be checked for Ebola.

Duncan's nephew, Josephus Weeks and other family members have complained about the delay in care. Doctors have said that early, supportive care with IV fluids has been critical to improving the survival rate.

Some relatives have asked whether Duncan got short-changed because he was African. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has visited with the family to discuss the possibility.

The hospital denies this, without directly explaining why Duncan was mistakenly sent home at first.

“In addition, we’d like to correct some misconceptions that have been reported about Mr. Duncan’s first visit. Our care team provided Mr. Duncan with the same high level of attention and care that would be given any patient, regardless of nationality or ability to pay for care,” the hospital said.

“In this case that included a four-hour evaluation and numerous tests. We have a long history of treating a multicultural community in this area.”

It also expressed sympathy. “The nurses, doctors, and team who cared for him, as well as the entire Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas community, grieve the loss of Mr. Duncan.”

KXAS-TV contributed to this report.

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