HC&B | Hobbie, Corrigan & DeCarlo, P.C. HC&B | Hobbie, Corrigan & DeCarlo, P.C.
Local: 732-982-4178
Toll Free: 877-565-5853
We Deliver Aggressive and Zealous
Legal Representation for all our Clients.

Ebola death illustrates consequences of communication errors in health care settings

When dealing with an individual’s health and a possible medical emergency, finding a way to capture and communicate vital medical information is paramount. A recent example of the devastating consequences that may result when health care professionals fail to effectively communicate involves the case of the first U.S. Ebola victim, Thomas Duncan.

An NBC News timeline details when Duncan was likely exposed to Ebola and the events that transpired thereafter. While in Liberia, Duncan helped a pregnant neighbor infected with Ebola get to the hospital on Sept. 15. On Sept. 20 he arrived in the U.S. to visit family and friends. Feeling ill, on Sept. 26, Duncan sought medical care at a Dallas hospital. At that time, however, the possible source of Duncan's illness was not diagnosed as Ebola and he was sent home only to arrive by ambulance two days later and be quarantined with the deadly disease.

Duncan subsequently died and the health, safety and very lives of several individuals who may have come into contact with Duncan after his initial misdiagnosis were put at risk. How did this medical mistake happen? Why didn’t the doctor who initially examined Duncan know the man had recently traveled to the U.S. from Liberia?

The Dallas hospital has since come forward to report that the intake nurse correctly entered information related to Duncan's recent travel activity in the patient's electronic health record. That information, however, was not visible to the doctor who subsequently examined Duncan as the system apparently didn't deem travel information to be important to a patient's diagnosis.

While the reporting error with this specific EHR system has since been fixed, this very public and tragic case raises additional questions and concerns about how pertinent medical information is and is not being communicated to and seen by U.S. doctors who are responsible for providing everyday medical care to millions of men, women and children.

Communication failures or shortcomings occur with far too much frequency in hospital settings and, as this case illustrates, are not solved by the use of EHRs. One doctor and patient safety advocate cites patient handoffs as being a time when breakdowns in communication are particularly common and harmful to patients whose very lives may depend on whether important information is correctly documented, communicated and interpreted.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "Scarier Than Ebola: Human Error," John Tozzi, Oct. 3, 2014

NBC News, "Timeline: How Ebola Made Its Way to the U.S.," Tom Winter, M.L. Flynn and Robert Dembo, Oct. 2, 2014

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

We are proud sponsors:

Community Donations/Sponsorships

  • Eatontown Engine/Truck (Fire Company) Donation
  • Police Unity Tour Donation
  • American Cancer Society-Relay for Life Sponsor
  • Monmouth County Sheriff's Officers Donation
  • Jersey Shore University Medical Center Annual
  • Sweetheart Ball
  • Cancer Support Committee Annual Celebration of Life
  • Muscular Dystrophy Association Winter Ball
  • NJEF-Sycamore Tree Sponsor

Ad Journals

  • St. Paul Baptist Church birthday calendar
  • LADACIN Network Rosebud Gala Dinner Dance
  • Kiwanis Club of Jackson Patrolmen of the Year
  • HW Mountz PTA School calendar
  • HW Mountz Kitchen Tour

Sports Activities

  • Jackson Memorial High School Boys Basketball Sponsor
  • New Jersey Shorestars-7th Grade AAU Basketball Team Donation
  • Shark River Surf Anglers-Trout Contest for Kids Donation
  • Team Philly Basketball Live in AC Donation
  • Golf Outing Sponsorships

Golf Outing Sponsorships

  • The Community YMCA
  • Covenant House
  • NJ Roadrunners
  • Zan Tozzi Foundation
  • Ocean County Emerald Society Douglas King Tournament
  • PBA Local #50
Super Lawyers New Jersey Supreme Court | Certified Attorney AV | LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell | Peer Review Rated For Ethical Standards and Legal Ability Legal Leaders | Top Rated Lawyers American Association for Justice | Member 2012

Hobbie, Corrigan & DeCarlo, P.C.

Local: 732-982-4178
Toll Free: 877-565-5853
Fax: 732-380-1720

Eatontown Law Office Map
Hobbie, Corrigan & DeCarlo, P.C.
125 Wyckoff Road
Eatontown, NJ 07724

Brick Law Office Map
Brick Law Office Map
848 Route 70
Brick, NJ 08724