OTR Interviews

Dallas hospital had Ebola screening machine, but didn't use it ... Could Thomas Duncan have been saved?

Defense One reporter: Dallas hospital had the Ebola screening machine that the military is using in Africa when a stricken Thomas Eric Duncan walked in. #Ebola

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 17, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Wait until you hear this. Did you know there is a special Ebola screening machine? The military uses it in Africa. Believe it or not, the Dallas hospital at the center of the Ebola crisis has one, too.

So, why aren't they using it? And why didn't they use it on Mr. [Thomas] Duncan when he first showed up at the hospital on September 19th with Ebola-type symptoms?

Defense One tech editor, Patrick Tucker, joins us. Nice to see you.

PATRICK TUCKER, TECH EDITOR, DEFENSE ONE: Hey, thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is this machine?

TUCKER: It's called a Film Ray, from a company called BioFire. It's about toaster size. You take a sample, you stick it in there. After about an hour, it's going to tell you what you have got. It depends on what kit you arm it with.

Right now, the FDA has approved the use of this machine for detecting certain types of illnesses, like listeria, types of influenza. If you want to use it to detect Ebola, you have to get a special kit for Ebola. It's like a little software pack. The thing is, though, this Dallas hospital, though they had the machine, they weren't authorized to use it to screen for Ebola because it wasn't a research-use- only machine according to the FDA guidelines.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did they have the software? I understand there are two considerations here. Whether they had the software to make it so they could test for Ebola is the first thing. Seconds thing, whether the machine was capable. And then, of course, the other is a designation. Could it have done it?

TUCKER: If they had the software. They did not. So you have to designate the machine as research-only. You call BioFire and they'll get you the software kit immediately. They are very up on this. That is just a FedEx exchange that needs to happen. They didn't have the kit. You have to change your designation in order to get it. Then once they had that, it would have taken an hour to properly diagnose.

VAN SUSTEREN: What designation did it have in this hospital?

TUCKER: Well, it's a clinical diagnostic machine. You use it --

VAN SUSTEREN: But if you say it's only for research, you could have looked for Ebola?

TUCKER: Exactly. If you tell the FDA, we're only going to use this for research, then you can use it to actually take care of parents that might have Ebola. If you want to use it to, you know, clinically diagnose listeria and not for treating Ebola patients, then it gets to retain its clinical diagnosis status.

VAN SUSTEREN: You agree that's a little nutty, the labeling of this?

TUCKER: Yeah. Exactly, ludicrous.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, good. I thought I was the only one. It's pretty crazy.

Patrick, thank you.