Ebola lawsuits would face high hurdles in Texas

Monday, October 6, 2014

Potential suits against the Dallas, Texas hospital that sent home a patient later diagnosed with Ebola face long odds in the face of state medical malpractice laws.

Texas tort-reform measures have made it one of the hardest places in the United States to sue over medical errors, especially those that occurred in the emergency room, according to plaintiffs’ lawyers and legal experts.

“It’s one of the highest legal burdens of any state in the country,” said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of New York Law School’s Center for Justice and Democracy, who studies U.S. tort law.

Although it appears no lawsuits have been filed in connection with the case, possible legal claims could be brought by Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan or his family, anyone he may have exposed to the disease, or hospital workers put at risk.

Duncan, now in critical condition, first visited Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital’s emergency room late at night on Sept. 25. Duncan told a nurse he had just returned from Liberia, where the disease is raging, but he was sent home with antibiotics. On Sunday, Sept. 28, he was admitted after his symptoms became worse, becoming the first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States.


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