The family of Pauline Cafferkey, the nurse who was infected with the deadly Ebola virus last December during an outbreak in Sierra Leone, and has now been returned to the Royal Free hospital, have said that doctors missed a "big opportunity" to spot symptoms that showed the disease had returned. Cafferkey is currently in an isolation unit in London after further tests indicated she could still have a strain of the virus in her body.
Speaking to the Sunday Mail newspaper, the nurse's family said that she had been sent home with symptoms four days before she was hospitalised and that medical experts had dismissed her complaint as an unconnected virus. According to the newspaper, her sister Toni Cafferkey said that that Pauline had gone to an out-of-hours GP clinic at the New Victoria Hospital in Glasgow on Monday night (5 October) but the doctor who assessed her had sent her home; treatment that Toni described as "absolutely diabolical".
"We feel she was let down," she told the newspaper. "Instead of being taken into hospital, she spent the whole of Tuesday very ill," and that the family didn't know if the delays diagnosing Pauline have had an adverse effect on her health. "We intend to find out. It has not been good enough," she said.
A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: "We can confirm that Pauline did attend the New Victoria Hospital GP out-of-hours service on Monday. Her management and the clinical decisions taken based on the symptoms she was displaying at the time were entirely appropriate."
The nurse, from Cambuslang in South Lanarkshire, had spent nearly a month in isolation in the Royal Free Hospital at the beginning of the year after she contracted the virus in the African country in December last year.
Ebola has been shown to maintain for months in some parts of the human body and in bodily fluids. A statement from the Royal Free Hospital confirmed Cafferkey had been readmitted due to "unusual late complication of her previous infection by the Ebola virus".