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Ebola victim's family, hospital reach settlement

13 November 2014, 07:02

Dallas - The hospital that treated the only Ebola patient to die in the United States will pay his relatives an undisclosed sum and create a charitable foundation in his name, the family's attorney said on Wednesday.

The agreement heads off a potential lawsuit from relatives of Thomas Eric Duncan, who died 8 October at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

Duncan was initially sent away from the hospital's emergency room with antibiotics, something hospital administrators have acknowledged was a mistake. He would return to the hospital in an ambulance two days after his release and was quickly diagnosed with possible signs of Ebola, which has killed more than 5 000 people in West Africa.

Attorney Les Weisbrod declined to say how much the settlement was worth, but said it was a "very good deal" that would provide for Duncan's parents and his four children. Weisbrod also said Presbyterian hospital was not charging Duncan's family for his medical treatment. The foundation will assist efforts to fight Ebola in Africa, he said.

Also Read: Entertainment stars lead campaign against Ebola

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said in a statement that it was "grateful to reach this point of reconciliation and healing for all involved".

The hospital has apologised for releasing Duncan the first time, and after initially denying he had told them he was from West Africa, they acknowledged key caregivers missed his travel history in their record system.

Weisbrod and Duncan's nephew, Josephus Weeks, both credited Presbyterian's officials for moving quickly to settle the case and for acknowledging the hospital's mistakes.

Duncan's family would have faced a very high bar had they filed a lawsuit against Presbyterian hospital. Texas medical malpractice law places a $250 000 limit on non-economic damages related to pain and suffering in almost all cases.

It also gives extra protection to emergency room doctors and nurses. Instead of just proving that Duncan's doctors were negligent in his care, Duncan's family would have to prove that any negligence was "willful and wanton" - essentially, that doctors knew they were causing harm when they treated Duncan.

Louise Troh, Duncan's fiancee, will not receive anything in the settlement, Weisbrod said.

- AP

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