Nurses union: Ebola hospital, health care workers, not prepared to deal with the virus

A nurses union said that their interviews with non-union nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas reveal a startling series of errors and lies that show the hospital was woefully unprepared to treat Ebola patient Thomas Duncan.

All the confident pronouncements about how prepared the hospital was, how careful they were, are apparently bogus.

The Hill:

A national nursing union is blasting the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas for what it described as a lack of preparation for Ebola that put healthcare workers at risk.

The criticism took place on a conference call late Tuesday night, before news early Wednesday that a second medical professional contracted Ebola while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to enter a U.S. hospital with Ebola.

There are now two healthcare workers with Ebola tied to Duncan's case. The first, 26-year-old nurse Nina Pham, was isolated over the weekend. Duncan died last week.

National Nurses United listed grievances it said reflected the views of nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, who are not unionized. None of the hospital nurses reportedly spoke on the call, and their claims were not independently verified.

The nurses' statement said Duncan spent hours in the same room as other patients, and that Texas Health resisted isolating him despite urging from a nursing supervisor.

Nurses were also left to care for Duncan using incomplete protective gear, including gloves with no wrist tape, gowns that did not cover their necks and no surgical booties, the statement said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Fluid samples used to diagnose Duncan were not "specifically sealed and hand-delivered," a failure that could have contaminated "the entire tube system."

"There was no advanced preparedness on what to do with the patient. There was no protocol," the statement read. "There was no system. The nurses were asked to call the infectious disease department" with questions but did not receive answers.

"Hospital officials allowed nurses who interacted with Mr. Duncan to then continue normal patient-care duties," potentially putting other patients at risk, it continued.

The claims run contrary to the account from hospital officials, who said they had protocols in place to protect healthcare workers.

Who to believe? You have to ask what motivation would the nurses at the hospital have to lie. Hospital officials, on the other hand, have a great deal of motivation to cover up their incompetence by claiming everything was by the book.

Most troubling is the charge that the nurses were allowed to treat other patients while treating Mr. Duncan. If true, the CDC is not monitoring nearly enough people. If some of those patients and other health care workers who treated Duncan come down with the disease, we'll know who was telling the truth.


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