Dallas doctors never saw a nurse’s note that an emergency room patient with fever and pains had recently been in Africa, and he was released into the community with Ebola.
The electronic records system at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital didn’t flag the information to the physician, hospital officials said. Even so, the doctor should have known to double-check himself rather than depend on someone else, said Ashish Jha, a health policy professor at Harvard University’s School of Public Health in Boston.
“There are so many flaws in the logic of ‘The EMR system made us to do it,’” Jha said in a telephone interview, referring to the emergency’s room’s records. “When a patient walks in the ER with a fever, the standard question is ‘Have you traveled?’ I don’t understand why that question wasn’t asked by the physician.
Two days after being released, the patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, returned in an ambulance to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, was placed in isolation and subsequently confirmed as having the deadly disease.
Wendell Watson, a spokesman for the hospital, said the hospital had wrongly designed its digital record system so not all of a nurse’s notes are visible to doctors.