UPDATED | October 12, 2014 6:23 PM
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas has reached an agreement with the family of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died in October at the medical facility.
The agreement comes after allegations of wrong-doing, protocols not being followed, and claims that the hospital did not do enough to protect the patient. It has been just over one month since the 42-year-old man from Africa lost his fight with Ebola.
Duncan’s sister and nephew were present as the family’s attorney announced a multi-faceted agreement, which included a financial settlement and a charitable contribution.
“This has been a tragic loss for the children and the parents,” said attorney Les Weisbrod. “We’re here today to announce a settlement that will take care of all the children and parents.”
Duncan has four children ages 12, 18, 19 and 22 that will benefit from the settlement. Two of his children still live in Africa.
Weisbrod said the family’s mission was to “raise awareness of preventable medical errors in the US.” According to Weisbrod, there are approximately 400,000 preventable deaths in the U.S. each year.
The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but Weisbrod says the deal is better than what could have been awarded to the family had the case gone to trial. Under Texas law limits, the family could have received up to $500,000 in damages.
The hospital will also setup a charitable fund in memory of Duncan that will provide assistance to victims of Ebola in Africa.
“Texas Health Presbyterian and Texas Health Resources have to be congratulated and commended on stepping up to the plate,” said Weisbrod.
“They’ve apologized. They’ve said what went wrong. They have changed policies and procedures by the announcements they have made…They’re making the effort to try to prevent this from happening. We need all hospitals to make those kinds of efforts.”
The Duncan family also has expressed interest in a book or movie to highlight Duncan’s life and tragic demise.
Duncan’s nephew, Josephus Weeks, emphasized his commitment to “moving forward” and working to raise awareness to the situation.
“We made a mistake and we lost one, but we can save a thousand. I can never replace Thomas Eric Duncan, but what I can do is make sure that everything that happens from here makes it better for everybody else,” said Weeks. “We all make mistakes, so sitting there worrying about mistakes is not going to solve the problem.”
Weeks noted that if he were in need of medical attention, he would seek treatment at Presbyterian Hospital. “That’s my commitment to them.”
Presbyterian Hospital has been embroiled in a public relations nightmare since Duncan walked through their doors in September.
Local attorney Chris Hamilton agreed that regardless of the size of the settlement, it is worth every penny as the hospital works to rebuild its image.
“They needed to this to end. The publicity cost is off the chart,” said Attorney Hamilton.
“We don’t’ know what would have come out in discovery, and the hospital just couldn’t allow that to happen.”
Duncan first arrived at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on September 25, complaining of Ebola symptoms. But he was sent away after a triage nurse did not effectively communicate his travel history. Duncan returned to the hospital’s emergency room two days later, this time showing more serious symptoms. It was only then that he was considered to be a possible Ebola patient.
The hospital has already apologized to Duncan’s family for the mistakes that were made, including the initial misdiagnosis.
They hospital has indicated that it will not charge the family for any medical expenses from Duncan’s care.
“We know that this has been a terribly sad, difficult and trying time for Mr. Duncan’s family and friends, and they will continue to be in the hearts and prayers of the entire Texas Health Presbyterian family,” the hospital said in a statement.
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