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.