Many have wondered why U.S. officials allowed an exposed Ebola patient into the country, but with the latest insight coming from the deputy information minister for public affairs, Isaac Jackson, we learn that the Liberian government plans to prosecute 42-year old Thomas Eric Duncan (the Dallas Ebola patient) for lying on a health form, and practicing ‘negligent conduct.’
Apparently, Duncan answered ‘no’ on a health form to a question about whether he had been exposed to any Ebola victims in the last 21 days, and prior to boarding his plane to Dallas.
The patient, who is now reportedly deceased due to Ebola, was to be prosecuted under Chapters 13 and 14 of the Public Health Law of Liberia, two codes involving negligent conduct of putting others in danger when an individual is fully aware of health risks.
Duncan has only been in Dallas since September 20, but he did communicate that he was from Liberia to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, and a full travel history was taken, though he was sent home shortly after being admitted, with only antibiotics. It was only two days later that medical tests confirmed he had Ebola.
It seems Duncan’s little white lie, and Presbyterian Hospital’s inability to diagnose correctly based on patient history, are both at fault.
Though Duncan mentioned to nurses that he had traveled to Africa, his doctors weren’t immediately aware of the fact because the electronic health records the hospital uses have different nursing and physician sections.
Due to this incident, a travel section is now included in all patient histories.
The CDC claims that the Ebola patient’s temperature was normal when he boarded the plane in Liberia, which, if we are to believe health authorities, minimizes risk of the disease spreading to other passengers on the plane. Nonetheless, United Airlines is reaching out to all passengers on Duncan’s flight. When he reached the hospital, he had a 103 degree fever.
Four days before Duncan left Liberia, he helped a pregnant woman who was suffering from the disease, according to a cab driver. It is possible that Duncan believed she was ill due to pregnancy and not due to having Ebola.
CDC Director Tom Frieden on a press call Thursday, said:
“The reality is, it’s the case that individuals often don’t know what their exposure may have been. Not all individuals disclose what their exposure may have been.”