The Race Card-Going Viral with Ebola

O.K, that’s it. The divisive America-haters have called racism one too many times for me to pray for good to overcome evil, turn the other cheek, and bite my tongue. October 9th, on O’Reilly, Geraldo Rivera accused doctors at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas of gross malpractice and racism in the death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient to develop symptoms from Ebola in the U.S and the first to die from Ebola in the U.S. Then Duncan’s nephew, Josephus Weeks, said his uncle’s care was “either incompetence or negligence.” Weeks said “there is a problem, and we need to find the answer to it.” He went on to say it was “conspicuous” that all the white Ebola patients in the U.S. survived “and the one black man died.”

Mr. Duncan flew from his home in Liberia to Dallas after close bodily contact with a nineteen year-old pregnant woman who died from Ebola. Duncan lied about his exposure to Ebola, first to gain entrance to the United States and then upon presentation to the hospital in Dallas. Duncan’s lies resulted in exposure of countless numbers of innocent individuals, who trusted his word, to the Ebola virus.

Ebola virus is deadly with a 25-90% mortality rate. The mortality rate is higher in Liberia than the U.S. for many reasons but obviously because there is not sufficient access to advanced medical care in Liberia where there are thousands of patients, thousands of deaths, and limited resources. In the United States, there have been only five Ebola patients thus far. Four were American citizens brought to the U.S. for care, having contracted Ebola in Liberia. Duncan is the first patient to bring the Ebola virus to the U.S. undiagnosed. He smuggled it in, if you will. Had he told the medical personnel the truth about his direct contact with an Ebola victim, the course of events no doubt would have been different. Perhaps he would have survived longer, perhaps not. Of five Ebola patients in the United States, Duncan has died, three have lived, and one is fighting for his life. The U.S. Ebola virus mortality rate stands at 20%, the best scenario reported. Doctors did not kill Mr. Duncan, Ebola virus did. Ebola does not discriminate.

The four surviving American Ebola patients are two doctors, one nurse, and one videographer, all members of medical teams who knowingly exposed themselves to Ebola-stricken patients in Liberia as they unselfishly attempted to provide medical care in the disease stricken, impoverished region. In stark contrast, Duncan fled the Ebola region, virus in tow, selfishly lying to seek refuge and medical care for himself in the U.S. Upon diagnosis, the four surviving Ebola patients were admitted directly to specifically selected hospitals in Atlanta and Omaha that specialize in serious infectious diseases. These facilities were notified and prepared for the arrival of the already diagnosed patients. Duncan, on the other hand, showed up on the doorstep of an unsuspecting hospital, having lied to immigration officials to get into the U.S., and proceeded to give false medical history to the trusting, protocol-following, and now Ebola-exposed hospital personnel. The odds of a patient being diagnosed with Ebola on U.S soil and showing up at the local E.R. stand at 1:315,000,000. Had Duncan fessed up, perhaps he would have been transferred to Omaha or Atlanta as a precautionary measure rather than sent home as any other typical non-Ebola-exposed patient would have been regardless of race. The diagnosis would have come sooner had Duncan reported his true clinical medical history.

As a physician, I treat each individual patient with dignity, respect, and 100% devotion regardless of race, creed, or other distinction. I expose myself to disease each and every day as I seek to serve others in my profession of calling. Throughout my professional life, the patient-physician relationship has been sacrosanct; in this regard, truth is the foundation, and lies are rare and counterproductive to the patient’s best interest. I do not appreciate liars. Fortunately, they are rarely encountered.

Unfortunately, as Hippocratic medicine is undermined and replaced by government–run medicine of Obamacare, the patient–physician relationship is violated. Physician-extenders and electronic medical records supplant direct patient-physician contact, the private history, and a hands-on physical examination. Because of government intrusion, patients are afraid to tell the truth to a “provider” who sits with their back to them, entering data into mandated electronic records, which can be hacked, shared, and used for government research without patient consent. There is no trust. There is no privacy or dignity either.

I don’t blame Duncan for lying. He was afraid for his life. But, don’t call physicians racist when our system is subject to corrupting forces of increasing government control, which are increasingly out of our control. Are we now to presuppose that all patients are liars and not to be trusted? That all patients are infected with a lethal, virulent virus as a default position? Must we show up to work each day in a Hazmat suit? Why even take a patient history? What is the “provider” pecking into the computer after all? Is it all just “garbage in and garbage out”?

And, is the level of expectation for physicians now that 100% of all patients we encounter must survive even the most lethal disease, or we are guilty of gross malpractice and racism?

Did Geraldo and Duncan’s nephew research the race of the four surviving Ebola victims? Did Geraldo investigate the races of the nurses and doctors that took care of Duncan in Dallas? Did Geraldo and Weeks look at pictures of these people or make presumptions based on name only? So, who’s racist? “Eric Duncan” doesn’t sound very Liberian to me. “Nancy Writebol, Dr. Kent Brantly, and Dr. Rick Sacra,” what are those names? Dr. Ashoka Mukpo-wait, what kind of name is that? Geraldo, …REALLY? Are you that divisive and political that you throw the race card at America’s 850,000 physicians for a 1:315,000,000 death from highly virulent Ebola virus?

Perpetuating the racial divide is malicious. Physicians must opt out of this “political medicine” race card game. We must not serve this Ezekiel Emanuel “Die at 75,” Kathleen Sebilius “Someone lives and someone dies,” Sylvia Burwell “inflict maximal pain,” Don Berwick “NHS is such a seductress,” Barack Obama “we’ll let your doctor know… if it’s better to take have the surgery or take the painkiller” regime of community organizers and dividers. We must serve the patient. We must unite and establish a parallel, patient-centered universe where physicians practice Hippocratic medicine and patients’ relationships are with the doctors who serve them, not with the insurance companies or government agencies who serve themselves. Is that racist?

Or is Geraldo?


7 thoughts on “The Race Card-Going Viral with Ebola

  1. I don’t think Thomas Eric Duncan was subject to racism so much as the perfect storm of being foreign, uninsured (in a state hostile to the poor more than minorities) in severe pain (suspected of drug shopping) capped by a failure of Texas Health Presbyterian Administrative Staff to find a bed for him at his first ED visit. Somehow the medical staff got into a collective state of denial and didn’t believe they were seeing Ebola up front and personal and convinced themselves he could be discharged. It’s a wake up call.

  2. He DID tell the triage nurse he just flew back from Liberia. The rest of it I can’t speak to, I don’t know if he knew he was exposed before he flew here, but I DO know he told the nurse who passed it along to the doctor. It’s in the medical record and it’s been verified.

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