U.S. nurses say they are unprepared to handle Ebola patients
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...
... 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...
... 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...
... 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...
... Sean Kaufman, president of Behavioral-Based Improvement Solutions, an Atlanta-based biosafety firm, helped coach nurses at Emory University through the process of putting on and taking off personal protective equipment (PPE) while they were caring for two U.S. aid workers flown to Atlanta after becoming infected with Ebola in West Africa.
Kaufman became known as "Papa Smurf" to the Emory nurses because of the blue hazmat suits he and others wore that resembled the cartoon character.
"Our healthcare workforce goes through so many pairs of gloves that they really don't focus on how they remove gloves. The putting on and the taking off doesn't occur with enough attention to protect themselves," he said.
Nurses say hospitals have not thought through the logistics of caring for Ebola patients.
"People say they are ready, but then when you ask them what do you actually have in place, nobody is really answering that," said Karen Higgins, a registered nurse at Boston Medical Center.
Higgins, an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse, said hospital officials have been teaching nurses on one of the regular floors how to care for an Ebola patient.
"I said, well, that's great, but if the patient requires an ICU, what is your plan," she said. "They looked at me blankly."...