Why We Shouldn’t Be Surprised a Nurse Contracted Ebola in the U.S.
Note: I have intentionally not linked to NBC’s post about Nina Pham, RN’s nursing experience. Critical care nurses must meet exacting requirements prior to receiving critical care certification. Critical Care certified nurses have already put in the time. Please reference this FAQ from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses
Anyone making comments about the nurse who contracted Ebola and her competence or her thoroughness needs to read this article. If you are a nurse or physician or other healthcare provider who does not work in a biohazard containment facility, you need to rethink. Remember: people who are experts with this clothing get Ebola. Are we surprised that people who are not experts could contract it? The issue is training and skill level. We should not be surprised that people who have never been around Ebola are not experts at containing or contracting Ebola.
(update added at end of post)
I’ve known for years (and I think a lot of people have) that Ebola would get to the U.S, but I still haven’t been afraid of it because you remain more at risk of being shot by a police officer or security guard even if unarmed in the United State than of catching Ebola. Even as a nurse. You are at higher risk to die of diabetes, the flu, or by a drunk driver than you are from Ebola. You have this risk simply because you live in the United States.
But what I DO know… due to my burn scar, I can’t wear a traditional TB mask. I have to wear a PAPR hood. However, I’ve never worn one. I don’t even know how they work. Still, if I had a TB patient, I’d be expected to learn how to care for the hood as well as the patient. I’ve never worn one. That’s…. not comforting. (In addition, workers at Texas Presbyterian were not given Hazmat suits until a positive Ebola test was received).
I think it’s time hospitals, nursing, and medical schools started adding biohazard PPE training to their regimens. I think the United States should fund this. I think they can do it by reversing the decision to slash the Hospital Preparedness Program from $515 million to $255 milllion in 2014 and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program from $900 million in 2005 to $610 million this year. (Links found from “Ebola Highlights Public Health Crisis“)
The United States has thousands of hospitals, all staffed by medical professionals who have dedicated years of their lives to careful education and preparedness for the care of any individual who may be hurt or ill. Is it too much to ask that the United States not ask for actual years off of our lives?
After initially posting this, I came across this article from Oregon Live that states, according to records obtained by the AP, Texas Presbyterian did not place it’s staff into Hazmat suits until Duncan’s Ebola test was positive.
Patient from Liberia: Check
With explosive diarrhea: Check
High fever: Check
Hazmat suits? Let’s wait for blood results.
I really hope that article is wrong, but I don’t think it will be.
Posted on October 14, 2014, in Nursing and tagged Ebola, medicine, Nursing, politics, registered nurse. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
As someone trained in HAZWOPER-HC Responder protocols I understand the need for training. Proper donning/doffing of a PAPR or SAR requires practice. If your Occupational Health service isn’t giving you opportunity for training with a PAPR you cannot be expected to use that PPE to care for a patient.
Legally, an employer has only one obligation to their employees. That obligation is to provide the equipment needed (and the training where necessary) to do your job.
Thanks for all you do and for your blog.