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Dallas Nurses On Ebola Case: ‘There Was No Protocol’

Answering top health official’s allegations that there was a breach of protocol, Dallas hospital nurses who took care of  Thomas Eric Duncan, said there was no clear protocol on how to handle such cases. Duncan was the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, which resulted in one of the nurses’ exposure to the deadly virus.

The Liberian man who was rushed to the Texas Presbyterian Hospital by an ambulance two weeks ago, sat for “several hours” in a room with other patients before being isolated, and the nurses who took care of him wore flimsy gowns and had little protective gear, the nurses who treated him said in a statement, Los Angeles Times reports. Duncan died on October 8.

The media statement by the National Nurses United Tuesday says the nurses, most of whom are non-unionized, feared of losing their jobs. In a conference call relayed to the media by the members of NNU representatives, the nurses said that Duncan “was left for several hours, not in isolation, in an area where other patients were present.”

And when a head nurse asked that Duncan be isolated, the supervisor “faced resistance from other hospital authorities,” the nurses said.

Moreover, the nurses were not oriented how to handle Ebola patients as Duncan’s lab specimens were sent through the usual hospital tube system “without being specifically sealed and hand-delivered. The result is that the entire tube system, which all the lab systems are sent, was potentially contaminated,” they said.

“There was no advanced preparedness on what to do with the patient. There was no protocol; there was no system. The nurses were asked to call the infectious disease department [if they have questions],” they said.

The nurses said they were practically left to figure things out for themselves as they dealt with “copious amounts” of body fluids from Duncan while wearing incomplete protective gear–gloves with no wrist tapes, gowns that did not cover their necks, and no surgical booties. Protective gear eventually arrived, but not until three days after Duncan’s admission to the hospital, the Times reports.

Meanwhile, CDC Director Thomas Frieden accepted the responsibility over the lapses and expressed regret that the agency was not able to provide more aid to the hospital to help contain the disease, The Washington Post reports.

“I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the first patient was diagnosed,” Frieden said. “That might have prevented this infection.”

From now on, Ebola response teams will immediately go to a hospital in the U.S. with a confirmed Ebola case.

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