Ebola disease

Nurse’s Union Criticize Safety as Ebola Spreads

The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas, says they’re following procedures established by the CDC. The CDC says procedures to contain Ebola are adequate. Clearly, the news that a second health worker at the hospital has been infected with Ebola indicates procedures should be reviewed. Perhaps the protocol is flawed.

Within days, additional health workers will likely be reported as infected. The CDC needs to get help from Doctors Without Borders. For years, DWB has been treating Ebola patients in Africa. Not one of their health workers has been infected.

Second Health Worker Has Ebola as Nurses Criticize Safety

By Caroline Chen, Darrell Preston and Romy Varghese

A second health-care worker in Texas tested positive after caring for an Ebola patient, opening new questions about oversight lapses by federal officials and spurring a nurses’ group to criticize safety precautions used within the hospital.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team that responded within a day after Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital was focused on contact tracing and did not care for the patient, said Dave Daigle, a CDC spokesman, in a telephone interview.

Laboratory examination of Ebola.

At the time, National Nurse’s United, a labor union, said the hospital left Duncan for hours in an area with other patients, supplied safety suits with exposed necks, forcing nurses to use medical tape to cover their skin, played down the need for more protective face masks, and sent Duncan’s lab specimens through the system without being specially sealed.

“The clinical care was done by the hospital’s clinical care team,” Daigle said. “We did consult with the team and the hospitals” but did not provide direct care.

Texas officials didn’t comment on the nurses’ complaints during a morning conference call. The focus for health officials in Dallas is now toward the future, said Judge Clay Jenkins, the county’s chief executive, during the call. The county is preparing contingencies for more cases, he said.

“It will get worse before it gets better, but it will get better,” added Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings at the briefing.

Immediately Isolated

The worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital reported a fever yesterday and was immediately isolated at the hospital, the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement today. The preliminary Ebola test was run late yesterday at the state public health laboratory in Austin, and results were received at about midnight.

This is the second health-care worker infected with Ebola while caring for Duncan, a Liberian visitor to the U.S. who died at the hospital last week. Asked at the briefing about the hospital’s performance, Daniel Varga, the chief clinical officer for the hospital group, said “I don’t think we have a systemic institutional problem.”

’’No one wants to get this right more than we do,’’ Varga said.

The nurses’ union said the information about hospital safety lapses came from “registered nurses” at the hospital “who have familiarity with what occurred at the hospital.” The Dallas nurses chose to remain anonymous “out of fear of retaliation,” the union said in a statement.

Contacts Identified

Health officials have interviewed the latest patient “to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored,” the Texas health department said. The type of monitoring depends on the nature of their interactions and the potential that they were exposed to the virus, according to the statement.

“An additional health-care worker testing positive for Ebola is a serious concern, and the CDC has already taken active steps to minimize the risk to health-care workers and the patient,” the CDC said in a statement today. “The CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services remain confident that wider spread in the community can be prevented with proper public health measures.”

The new case is the third known instance of Ebola transmission outside of Africa, where the worst-ever outbreak is raging in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. A nurse who treated Duncan, Nina Pham, has contracted Ebola, as has Teresa Romero, a Spanish nursing assistant who cared for two infected missionaries evacuated to Madrid for treatment.

Airline Screening

The infections outside Africa have spurred the U.S. and U.K. to begin screening some airline passengers on arrival in the past few days.

“It’s really concerning that health workers wearing full personal protective equipment have developed Ebola,” said Raina MacIntyre, a professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

“The initial response of the authorities has been to blame the nurse, that they made a mistake in the donning and doffing of equipment or made some mistake in the protocol” she said. “But it’s also possible that the guidelines aren’t adequate.”

Surgical masks may also be inadequate, and respirators that provide more protection should also be considered, she said.

Read More: Ebola in Texas

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