Ebola Affecting Nursing Preparedness and Danger

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By attorney Michael Ehline – Ebola one of the world’s most deadly diseases is no longer a disease occurring in other countries it has reached the United States and has become a danger to not only the general public but the nurses charged with caring for Ebola patients. In Dallas, Texas a second nurse has become ill with the disease and the Massachusetts nurses union has raised concerns about how prepared hospitals are for treatment of these patients.

Massachusetts Nurses Association President Donna Kelly-Williams stated that she has heard from nurses across the state that preparations are not in place to keep nurses safe. While hospital officials said, they have been preparing since summer and have attempted to be proactive, according to Brigham and Women’s Hospital medical director of emergency preparedness Dr. Eric Goralnick.

Nurses have valid concerns about seeing potential Ebola patients since they will be among the first to interact with the patient, and possibly without adequate training in the care of these particular types of patients.

CDC Blames Nurses?

What ebola looks like

What Ebola looks like

We saw the last few days, statements from the CDC insinuating that a nurse who came down with the symptoms of Ebola, lied or violated her oath as a nurse, to travel on an airplane (Source.)

Sadly, the CDC incited the press to attack Nurse Amber Vinson further.

“She should not have traveled on a commercial airline,” said CDC director Thomas Frieden. ABC News adds a bit more to the quote: “Because at that point she was in a group of individuals known to have exposure to Ebola, she should not have traveled on a commercial airline.” (See supra.)

So in this case, the press jumped on the administration’s bandwagon, and publicly shamed and blamed the nurse for traveling, and potentially infecting others. Of course, the facts show that Ebola takes 21 days to show symptoms and that the CDC did nothing to prevent the nurse from leaving since she cooperated with the CDC (We will discuss that more below.) Ok ok, let’s be fair. The nurse is a trained professional and should know that she should not have flown right? Well, let’s assume that is true. Should not also her bosses have known that?

Of course, before the North American outbreak that was caused by a West African that flew here, most U.S. based hospital nurses were not trained in Ebola control and prevention, at least not in any meaningful way. Nor were they following the accepted protocol as they are in Africa, where over a million individuals are quarantined. Why?

Simple, in the US we don’t regularly deal with these types of deadly diseases. In the past, when the U.S. was presented with H1N1 and other terrible illness, power was given to the president to quarantine and seal borders to prevent these types of diseases. Unfortunately, our government has seen fit to open up our borders. Hence they allow travel between West Africa and the U.S.  In fact, the recent wave of illegal immigration of minors seeking amnesty has resulted in another mass spreading of diseases like TB and Swine Flu that were once eradicated in the U.S. Now; we no longer have sufficient vaccine or immunity from these diseases.

Of course, this just shows a pattern of recklessness by our government in placing utopian political goals over our American people. After all, the most shocking part of this piece is that the nurse, nurse Amber Vinson contacted the CDC before boarding the aircraft, and informed them she had the slight symptoms of the flu and was told to travel. At the end of the day, had a private company been as negligent as our president in leading the fight against Ebola, the company would be filing for bankruptcy after being sued by a nursing home abuse lawyer like Jonathan Rosenfeld!

In 2005 Our Government Scrapped Regulations That Would Have Prevented/Mitigated the Spread of Ebola to the U.S. 

President Barack Obama moved with virtually no fanfare to abandon a comprehensive set of regulations which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had called essential to preventing international travelers from spreading deadly diseases inside the United States.

The CDC had proposed the regulations in 2005 under the administration of George W. Bush, reported USA Today in 2010. The original impetus for the regulations was fear that avian flu would spread unchecked. The regulations proposed under the Bush administration would have granted the federal government a power of “provisional quarantine” to confine airline passengers involuntarily for up to three days if they exhibit symptoms of certain infectious diseases. Federal officials would also have been able to quarantine passengers exposed to people with those symptoms.

There was a fairly long list of diseases. It included smallpox, yellow fever, diphtheria, pandemic flu, infectious tuberculosis, cholera — and viral fevers such as Ebola. Before the Obama administration withdrew the proposed new rules, CDC officials had emphasized that they would only invoke the involuntary “provisional quarantine” when someone exhibiting a set of symptoms refused to work with federal officials voluntarily. (Source.)

So as we see in the retarded explanation above, the CDC abandoned Bush’s proposed infectious diseases guidelines, and failed to promulgate new ones, for apparently political and no other reasons. Worse, the administration’s CDC says it won’t even enforce any types of quarantines unless someone with a fever, for example, refuses to “work with federal officials.”

Ok, but good luck suing the government. They have sovereign immunity. Better have a creative attorney. So if you are a suffering, wrongful death victim, you would have to prove that the nurse or hospital was negligent in infecting your deceased loved one. Or for the survivor who suffered from the disease, or is now disabled from same, you would have to show it would not have occurred but for the conduct of the care provider. Although you cannot sue for fear of contracting a disease in most states, in an attempt to quell the fears of nurses at some hospitals, they are providing training like at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Goralnick said they would not be training all 16,000 employees but instead, will prepare a select team to care for Ebola patients. William’s said nurses have reported to her the only training they have received has been an email that sends them to the U.S. Center for Disease Control website.

Late 2014 White House Holds Ebola Emergency Meeting

According to reports President Obama canceled fundraisers and possibly a few rounds of golf, and held an emergency meeting in the situation room with top health officials on Wednesday with the concerns about the Ebola virus. The outcome of the meeting included the fact that the United States must monitor Ebola in a more aggressive manner. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be sending in a rapid response team within 24 hours of a positive diagnosis.

President Obama said that the risk of contracting Ebola is extremely low for the general public, but that the highest level of the government is taking the situation seriously. Doctor Daniel Varga, the chief clinical officer for Texas Health Services, testified in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee stating that mistakes were made in the diagnosis of Thomas Eric Duncan, sending him home and his recent travel in West Africa, along with the fact he displayed the Ebola virus symptoms. He said he is sorry they did not correctly diagnose Duncan’s symptoms. But a staff member learned about Ebola symptoms several times during the summer months.

Varga said the hospital has made several policy changes and updated the emergency screening process by increasing training for staff members and questioning patients on their travel history. Center for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden criticized the handling of nurse Amber Vinson’s case who had called the CDC to question if she could board a flight when she had a fever. Frieden stated she disclosed she had cared for a patient with Ebola and was told she was cleared to fly.

Thomas Eric Duncan

According to reports while Thomas Eric Duncan was being treated at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital the staff did not begin wearing hazmat suits until two days after he was moved to isolation, even though he had been recently in Liberia. Duncan at the time had a high fever, vomiting, and diarrhea while being cared for by the staff before his death on October 8th. Hospital officials have not commented on the types of protective measures were used until in recent days where the chief clinical officer of the Texas Hospital system issued an apology in what he said were mistakes made by the hospital in the original diagnosis of Duncan and providing inaccurate information.

Health officials have stated that the lethal disease is contagious only through contact with bodily fluids and it is doubtful any of the passengers on the plane Duncan arrived in the U.S. were infected.  Two nurses that were on the team treating Duncan have both been infected.

Texas Nurse Infected

A Texas nurse along with several Ohio residents, who fear they may have been exposed to the virus by the nurse have flown to a Maryland hospital specializing in the Ebola virus to be isolated. The nurse has been identified as Amber Vinson, who recently flew from Texas to Ohio and then back to Texas before being diagnosed.

Texas nurse Amber Vinson is being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia where other Ebola patients have been successfully treated without any staff members becoming infected. The other Texas Nurse has been identified as Nina Pham age 26.


In northeast Ohio, there had been one person quarantined, and more recently six more people were hospitalized to be monitored for Ebola according to Ohio Department of Health spokesman Jay Carey those individuals who have been quarantined are monitoring themselves after coming in contact with Vinson.


In both Texas and Ohio, several schools have been closed as a precaution against students and faculty being exposed to the virus.

Cruise Ship Quarantine

Apparently, a Texas health care worker was cleared by the CDC to board a cruise ship, and he is now quarantined aboard the ship (Source.) Most of the spokespeople for the administration say that bodily fluids can only spread Ebola, and there is not much to worry about. But when we sweat, that is fluid, when we sneeze, fluid is sent airborne, often several feet from our bodies. Door knobs or breathing in particulates of fluid would seem to be a huge possibility. A renowned physician came out today and stated that Ebola is not a small disease risk like AIDS.

In any event, we see this disease spreading like wildfire, and 27 countries have temporarily suspended travel from West Africa. But in the U.S., it is business as usual, except that now our overloaded hospitals are faced with statistically greater chances of being exposed to and spreading Ebola. The mainstream press is doing its best to cover for the administration, as are its agency talking heads. At the end of the day, one Ebola case is more than enough for a single American to suffer.

The disease must be contained and stopped at its source. Perhaps nurses and hospitals are to blame for the failure to provide it once it is here, but it is pure recklessness to fail to institute a temporary travel ban at the very least and set up Ebola treatment centers that are located outside of ordinary hospitals like they have in West Africa. Nursing preparedness is not of paramount concern, considering that our government’s initial response has allowed the first spread to touch down here in the U.S.

Author: nursingethicsnetwork