U.S. nurses say they are unprepared to handle Ebola patients

October 2014HEALTH Nurses, the frontline care providers in U.S. hospitals, say they are untrained and unprepared to handle patients arriving in their hospital emergency departments infected with Ebola. Many say they have gone to hospital managers, seeking training on how to best care for patients and protect themselves and their families from contracting the deadly disease, which has so far killed at least 3,338 people in the deadliest outbreak on record. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has repeatedly said that U.S. hospitals are prepared to handle such patients. Many infectious disease experts agree with that assessment. Dr. Edward Goodman, an infectious disease doctor at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas that is now caring for the first Ebola patient to be diagnosed in this country, believed his hospital was ready. The hospital had completed Ebola training just before Thomas Eric Duncan arrived in their emergency department on Sept. 26. But despite being told that Duncan had recently traveled from Liberia, hospital staff failed to recognize the Ebola risk and sent him home, where he spent another two days becoming sicker and more infectious. The Texas case is a perfect example,” said Micker Samios, a triage nurse in the emergency department at Medstar Washington Hospital Center, the largest hospital in the nation’s capital. “In addition to not being prepared, there was a flaw in diagnostics as well as communication,” Samios said.
Nurses argue that inadequate preparation could increase the chances of spreading Ebola if hospital staff fail to recognize a patient coming through their doors, or if personnel are not informed about how to properly protect themselves. At Medstar, the issue of Ebola training came up at the bargaining table during contract negotiations. “A lot of staff feel they aren’t adequately trained,” said Samios, whose job is to greet patients in the emergency department and do an initial assessment of their condition. So Young Pak, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said it has been rolling out training since July “in the Emergency Department and elsewhere, and communicating regularly with physicians, nurses and others throughout the hospital.” Samios said she and other members of the emergency department staff were trained just last week on procedures to care for and recognize an Ebola patient, but not everyone was present for the training, and none of the other nursing or support staff were trained. “When an Ebola patient is admitted or goes to the intensive care unit, those nurses, those tech service associates are not trained,” she said. “The X-ray tech who comes into the room to do the portable chest X-ray is not trained. The transporter who pushes the stretcher is not trained.” If an Ebola patient becomes sick while being transported, “How do you clean the elevator?’
Nurses at hospitals across the country are asking similar questions. A survey by National Nurses United of some 400 nurses in more than 200 hospitals in 25 states found that more than half (60 percent) said their hospital is not prepared to handle patients with Ebola, and more than 80 percent said their hospital has not communicated to them any policy regarding potential admission of patients infected by Ebola. Another 30 percent said their hospital has insufficient supplies of eye protection and fluid-resistant gowns. “If there are protocols in place, the nurses are not hearing them and the nurses are the ones who are exposed,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, which serves as both a union and a professional association for U.S. nurses. – Huffington Post
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4 Responses to U.S. nurses say they are unprepared to handle Ebola patients

  1. jean says:

    Thank you, nurses, for, as usual, being the voice of reality instead of book learning and egotism within the healthcare system! I am not only not reassured by all the bravado on behalf of the U.S. healthcare system being expressed, I feel pretty sure we are likely to “get caught with our pants down” on this crisis every time I hear it! Ebola is a terrifying virus, the likes of which we’ve never seen. Let’s not kid ourselves and take a lesson from Dallas, “we ain’t ready” for the entirely foreseeable!


    • Judy Clarke says:

      As Nurses you ARE trained physically for infectious diseases using not only reversed barrier, but international protocols of self protection, strict hygiene, gown, gloving and masking and hair covering, no visitors. But what you aren’t prepared for is the emotional side of it. This type of nursing position should NOT be put on the general rotating roster. This is dangerous nuring therefore should be by application of staff ONLY, and because of Ebola’s ever changing state (Mutating), the staff should not leave that unit. So your home life is shot, to prevent spread at home. Because It is mutating, you don’t know if you leave the unit you may be unsuspectingly carrying it home with you. You are asking to be trained in an establishment that doesn’t truly know what this virus is capable of because if they did, it wouldn’t be this far advanced.
      The true answer: lock down each country in the African continent preventing anyone crossing borders as well as the cessation of all flights going in and out of that continent. I admire and respect anyone who takes on any position with this infectious disease. Good luck, my prayers are with everyone involved with it.


    • lindeetotems says:

      The pants are already down.

      I think this is just a typical answer regarding solidarity philosophy of the american-grown.

      Add to that…. If you cant make a buck off of it…..


  2. Wendy Anne Bowers says:

    Too many nurses at too many hospitals are over-worked and under-staffed as it is. If Ebola or a pandemic flu broke out, there would have to be staff dedicated to the infected and infected only to minimize risk of transmission to the uninfected. Too many hospitals now cannot keep dedicated staff to MRSA patients without having them helpout elsewhere during their shift, and now those beaurocrates are failing to provide adequate training and functional equipment?! It’s like they want things to grt out of control!


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