National

Dallas nurses allege shoddy equipment and poor guidance in treating Ebola patient

- National Nurses United, a union of registered nurses, issued a press statement Tuesday night highlighting concerns from nurses at Dallas Presbyterian Hospital who treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan.

Here's an except of the statement about the nurses allegations of shoddy protective equipment and a lack of operational guidance in handling the nation's first confirmed Ebola patient.

The names of the nurses were not provided out of fear of reprisal by the hospital:

"When Mr. Thomas Eric Duncan first came into the hospital, he arrived with an (elevated) temperature ...but was sent home.

On his return visit to the hospital, he was brought in by ambulance under suspicion from (family members that) he had Ebola.

Mr. Duncan was left for several hours not in isolation, (but) in an area where other patients were present. Subsequently, a nurse supervisor arrived and demanded that he be moved to an isolation unit - yet (the supervisor) faced resistance from other hospital authorities.

Lab specimens from Mr. Duncan were sent through the hospital tube system without being specifically sealed and hand-delivered. The result is that the entire tube system, (through) which all the lab specimens are sent, was potentially contaminated.

There was no advance preparedness on what to do with the patient. There was no protocol. There was no system.

The nurses were left to call the infectious disease department. The infectious disease department did not have clear policies to provide either. (Initially), nurses who interacted with Mr. Duncan wore generic gowns used in contact-droplet isolation front and back, three pairs of gloves with no taping around the wrists, surgical masks with the option of an N-95 (respirator) and face shields. Some supervisors said that even the N-95 masks were not necessary.

The gowns they were given still exposed their necks, the parts closest to their face and mouth. They also left exposed the majority of their heads. And their scrubs, (left them exposed) from the knees down.

Initially they were not even given surgical booties. Nor were they advised (of) the number of pairs of gloves to wear.

After they recommended that the nurses wear isolation suits, the nurses raised questions and concerns about the fact that the skin on their neck was exposed.

They were told to use medical tape and had to use four to five pieces of medical tape wound around their neck that is not impermeable and has permeable seams.

The nurses have expressed a lot of concern about how difficult it is to remove the tape from their necks and are uncertain whether it is being done safely.

Hopsital managers have assured nurses that proper equipment has been ordered, but it (has) not arrived yet.

Nurses had to interact with Mr. Duncan with whatever protective equipment was available at the time when he had copious amounts of diarrhea and vomiting which produce a lot of contagious fluids.

Hospital officials allowed nurses who interacted with Mr. Duncan to then continue normal patient care duties, taking care of other patients even though they had not had the proper personal protective equipment while providing care for Mr. Duncan that was later recommended by the CDC.”

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