Dallas Ebola Case: Why Did White Patients Live While Black Patient Died?

Dallas Ebola Case: Why Did White Patients Live While Black Patient Died?
Thomas Duncan died at a Texas hospital

AFRICANGLOBE – The Dallas hospital that treated Thomas Eric Duncan who died last week tried to fend off accusations that it initially turned him away because he was a poor African immigrant without insurance.

“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,” Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said in a statement.

Duncan first sought help at the hospital on Sept. 25 and was sent home several hours later with antibiotics rather than being observed further, even though he told a nurse he had recently returned from West Africa, where an Ebola outbreak has killed nearly 4,000 people.

About two days after that, he returned to the same hospital by ambulance and was placed in an isolation unit. He died on Wednesday after being attached to a ventilator and a dialysis machine. The hospital said he was 45.

An experimental drug called ZMapp, a cocktail of three antibodies that has been used on American patients infected with Ebola while in West Africa, was not used on Duncan because it was allegedly not available, the hospital said.

A serum transfusion used on an Ebola patient airlifted from West Africa to a hospital in Nebraska was not used on Duncan either because his blood type did not match the treatment.

His nephew, Josephus Weeks, launched a renewed attack on the Dallas hospital, claiming his uncle had received inferior treatment.

Mr Weeks said: ‘He is a poor Black man. He had a very deep accent coming from West Africa. I believe they [the hospital authorities] didn’t believe he deserved the care that everyone else should get. And you don’t treat people like that.’

“We feel he didn’t get the medicine and treatment for the disease because he’s African and they don’t consider him as important as the other three [Ebola patients],” Mr Weeks said.

The hospital said his heart stopped and Duncan “had expressed his wishes to his attending physician that the care team should not perform chest compressions, defibrillation or cardioversion to prolong his life.”

A family spokesman said during a visit to Dallas for the case that Duncan was initially discharged because he was poor, Black and without insurance. Duncan’s fiancee asked for a full investigation regarding his care.

Dr. Craig Smith, medical director for infectious disease at University Hospital in Augusta, Georgia, said Ebola, like any disease, was easier to beat the sooner it was treated.

After he was admitted, a team of more than 50 people cared for him and an entire 24-bed intensive care unit was secured and dedicated to Duncan’s care, the hospital said.

“The treatment area remains sealed and is being aggressively decontaminated,” it said.

“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,” the hospital said.