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US nurses concerned at lack of ebola preparation

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Nurses in the US have called on the president to force all hospitals to follow the strictest infection control procedures in order to protect staff from ebola.

At least two US nurses have now tested positive for the ebola virus in a hospital where one patient infected by the disease died.

National Nurses United called on Barack Obama to order all US hospitals to meet the highest “uniform, national standards and protocols” in order to “safely protect patients, all healthcare workers and the public.”

“Not one more patient, nurse, or healthcare worker should be put at risk due to a lack of healthcare facility preparedness”

RoseAnn DeMoro

The call followed news this week that Amber Vinson had caught ebola from Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian patient who died on 8 October in Texas Health Presbyterian hospital.

Ms Vinson, 29, is the second nurse to have contracted the disease at the hospital in Dallas. She has been transferred to a specialist facility in Georgia.

Meanwhile, her colleague Nina Pham, 26, thought to be the first person to have contracted ebola in the US, has been transferred to a special facility in Maryland.


Nina Pham

The NNU said its members across the country had “described widespread concerns in their hospitals about inadequate preparedness”.

It follows a similar statement from the union from its members at the Texas Health Presbyterian, which voiced “frustration and concern” over what they viewed as a lack of preparation and training.

In the statement, the Texas nurses claimed there was confusion in the hospital over policies in responding to patients with ebola, inadequate advance training and availability of proper personal protective equipment, and changing guidelines.

NNU executive director RoseAnn DeMoro said: “Sadly, the problems expressed by the heroic Texas Health Presbyterian registered nurses was predictable in our fragmented, uncoordinated private healthcare system, and it mirrors concerns we’ve heard from nurses across the US.

National Nurses United

RoseAnn DeMoro

“Not one more patient, nurse, or healthcare worker should be put at risk due to a lack of healthcare facility preparedness,” she said in a letter to president Obama. 

The letter states that every healthcare worker dealing with the disease should have “optimal personal protective equipment for ebola that meets the highest standards” and there should be at least two nurses caring for each ebola patient with additional staff assigned as needed.

“We know that without these mandates to health care facilities we are putting registered nurses, physicians and other healthcare workers at extreme risk,” said Ms DeMoro. “We would not send soldiers to the battlefield without armor and weapons.”

National Nurses United, with close to 185,000 members in every state, is the largest nursing union in the US.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • A disgraceful business.

    Cannot help but wonder if the NHS is any better prepared.

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