ER doctor on first national Ebola case named in Dallas Texas as Dr. Joseph Howard Meier
The first case of Ebola was seen at Dallas Texas Presbyterian hospital last year. Most of us, inclding me, blamed the ER doctor for not catching the Ebola and thus costing the patient’s life and two nurses contracting the deadly disease.
Add to that it was “election time” which equaled to a be very afraid atmosphere of which party can protect you the best; a frenzy of worry by the public including quarantining a nurse, Kaci Hickox, because she landed in New Jersey at the wrong time.
Presbyterian hospital has now named the ER doctor as Dr. Joseph Howard Meier, someone the hospital had kept secret his name until The Dallas Morning News decided to publish the doctors name. They wanted to give Dr. Meier a chance to answer their questions and give them an interview. That is when things became interesting. Dr. Meier would not give the Dallas Morning News an interview but he did refer them to his attorney, L. Lin Wood of Atlanta Georgia. Go figure!!
Lin Wood told the Dallas Morning News to submit a list of written questions and he would consider which ones his client would answer, you have to love it when someone under the gun comes up with one of the best attorneys in the business. Protective? Yes of all of his clients over the years as we have followed Mr. Wood’s cases since 2007.
Here are some of the more interesting questions and answers but the full transcript can be found on the newspaper’s site.
Erick Duncan, the patient came to the ER and saw Dr. Meier, on the Thursday night before returning on Sunday, being admitted the second visit and then dying. Mr. Duncan was the first Ebola patient to die in the U. S. Eric Duncan complained of a headache and abdominal pain. Dr Meier looked him over, checked his vital signs and ordered tests. After a few hours, Dr Meier diagnosed him with sinusitis, prescribed antibiotics and sent him home. That started the finger pointing, and the hospital kept changing their story of facts on who knew what and when. Since the ER doctor’s identity was kept secret by the hospital, it became very easy for us all to blame that doctor for a total mess. Hospital administrators apologized to Congress for the misdiagnosis after offering shifting explanations. They pointed to a nurse’s actions, then to flawed electronic records, then said the records had no flaw.
L Lin Wood Atlanta Georgia Attorney
Was Sept. 25-26 (Thursday-Friday) your regular shift? How long was your shift? When did it begin?
Answer: That is one of several shifts we all work. That particular shifted started at 10 p.m. and ended at 5 a.m.
Question: What training did Presbyterian and/or Texas Medical Resources give you for a potential Ebola patient?
Answer: I was not aware of any specific training for Ebola.
Question: Is there a written policy at Presbyterian or Texas Medical Resources instructing ER physicians to ask about travel history?
Answer: There is now. I am not aware of the existence of any policy prior to this case.
Question:We’re sure you’ve seen the quotes or heard the TV statements from medical experts who criticized your diagnosis and discharge of Mr. Duncan. Since you were in the unprecedented position of being the first American ER doctor to see an Ebola case unannounced in an ER, how would you respond to those experts?
Answer: It’s very easy to make a diagnosis of any condition after the patient’s medical evaluation confirms the final diagnosis. Unfortunately, such 20/20 hindsight is not available to medical professionals caring for patients in real time.
Question: One expert in emergency care told us picking out the nation’s first Ebola case here was like a “needle in a hayfield.” How would you describe the challenge of handling the first unannounced case to come through an American ER?
Answer: It can be a challenge to diagnose disease and illness. As doctors, we are trained to work from a set of differential diagnoses and seek to rule out until we hopefully reach the correct diagnosis. The more rare a disease or condition, the more likely it is that it will not be on an initial differential list. Since this first case, we have better protocols in place, but, even then, it can still be very difficult to diagnose something so rare. We do the best we can to get it right based on our training and experience.
Question: How has dealing with this experience as the first U.S. ER doctor to see an Ebola case unannounced been for you personally and professionally?
Answer: A little bit like getting struck by lightning, but mild in comparison to what Mr. Duncan’s family has gone through in losing a loved one to Ebola
Question: What do you think the public should know, that we don’t already know, about that initial visit of Mr. Duncan or this case in general?
Answer: That the enemies are Ebola and infectious diseases in general not the caregivers who are on the front line of diagnosis and treatment of patients.
The full article and questions and answers can be found at the two links above. I just picked out the ones that jumped out at me.
Now comes this weeks news on Dallas Presbyterian Hospital and Ebola.
Nina Pham, 26, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian, filed a lawsuit Monday, March 2, 2015, in Dallas against the hospital’s parent company, Texas Health Resources.
Pham released a statement to the media after the lawsuit was filed Monday morning saying she had hoped the company would be “more open and honest about everything that happened at the hospital, and the things they didn’t do that led to me getting infected with Ebola. But that didn’t happen and I felt I was left with no choice but to turn to the courts for help.”
“I’m facing a number of issues with regard to my health and my career and the lawsuit provides a way to address them,” Pham said in the statement. “But more importantly, it will help uncover the truth of what happened, and educate all health care providers and administrators about ways to be better prepared for the next public health emergency.”
Pham’s attorney told the media that Pham continues to suffer from aches and insomnia after she and another nurse, Amber Vinson, contracted the disease from patient Thomas Eric Duncan.
Dallas attorney, Charla Aldous, went on with his statement saying; “The nurse manager looked it up on the Internet, printed it out and handed it to Nina and that was the sum total of her training. These were the caregivers who were trying to figure this out on the fly.
It shouldn’t have happened, Healthcare workers in Liberia had better equipment to care for themselves than Nina Pham did the day she started caring for Eric Duncan.”
Aldous said once Pham was diagnosed, Nina was used as a PR pawn.
You can read the full article at the L. A. Times website, they also have a copy of the 37 page filing by Pham for you to read.
Texas state courts are very hard to get filings from most of the districts, if we can get those filings we will bring them to you.
We reached out to Mr. Wood to see if he had a comment but did not hear back from him.
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By Rose Turner
March 2, 2015
All Rights Reserved, do not reproduce in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author.
Tags: Charla Aldous
, Dallas Presbyterian Hospital and Ebola
, Dr. Joseph Howard Meier
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, L. Lin Wood
, Lin Wood
, Nina Pham
, Nina Pham Ebola nurse sues hospital
, Presbyterian Hospital
, Presbyterian Hospital Dallas Texas
, Thomas Eric Duncan