Family of Ebola victim eyes lawsuit

The family of the first Ebola victim in the U.S. will "probably" take legal action against the Dallas hospital, where he died this week, a spokesman for his fiancee said Friday.

Saymendy Lloyd, a family friend of Thomas Eric Duncan, told reporters that his relatives had been gravely concerned that he was initially released from the hospital, despite medical records that showed he had a 103-degree fever. 

“If you went to the hospital right now, and your temperature was 103 degrees, no doctor would send you home,” Lloyd said.

Duncan’s high temperature, which was first reported Friday by The Associated Press, raises new questions about his care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Hospital staff had also failed to note that Duncan had recently returned from the Ebola-stricken country of Liberia.

Lloyd, who spoke on behalf of Duncan’s finance Louise Troh during the press conference, said Troh knew that Duncan’s condition was serious and that the hospital “should have done something better than sending him home.”

“Legal action is probably something that will come later on, but in this moment, they are in the grieving process,” Lloyd said.

Across the Dallas area, Lloyd said many people have called for a better explanation of Duncan’s treatment. She added that people of all ethnicities feel that it was unfair and that it is not a “black issue.”

“If left to the community, there would be a lawsuit right now,” she said.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said Friday, before Lloyd’s remarks, that he doesn’t believe race factored into the patient’s care.

“While there may have been a missed step along the way someplace, I don’t believe race was a factor. But I will let Presbyterian speak for themselves in that regard,” he said in an interview with The Huffington Post.

The Dallas hospital has defended its care of Duncan and released two statements in two days about his treatment.

The hospital said Friday that it “continues to closely review and evaluate the chain of events related to the first Ebola virus diagnosis in the United States.” Officials also said the hospital has improved its intake process “to better screen for all critical indicators of Ebola virus.”

In a statement Thursday, the hospital wrote that Duncan was treated “with the same high level of attention and care that would be given any patient, regardless of nationality or ability to pay for care.”

Duncan was given an experimental drug nearly a week after he was admitted. Other patients treated in the U.S. were immediately given experimental treatments, which prompted claims of bias from some members of Duncan’s family.

Josephus Weeks, Duncan's nephew, said this week that Duncan “didn't get the medicine and treatment for the disease because he's African, and they don't consider him as important as the other three [Ebola patients].”

Duncan also did not receive the same type of blood transfusion as two of the Ebola-infected Americans, which the hospital said was because “his blood type was not compatible.”

Lloyd said Friday the family, particularly his fiancee, had also been left in the dark about his treatment.

“The family called every day, two three times a day, and there were times they were told by the nurse that she could not answer the questions,” she said.