As an emergency physician with a national security and public health background (among other things), I probably have a slightly different perspective on the Ebola issue than most folks.
From my perspective, there are several lessons to be learned here. First and foremost, never assume. Never assume that important issues are communicated. Never assume that the travel history is not pertinent. Never assume folks know the differences and have been trained accordingly on the levels of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The failures in this case could be duplicated at many, many hospitals throughout the country, if not most quite frankly. The majority of hospitals are used to level 2 PPE for staph, strep, and enterococcus infections. We don’t necessarily do that as well as we should either, as the iatrogenic infection rates in hospitals throughout the United States can attest. In a busy ER, the physician may not think to ask about recent travel (in the last 30 days) to Africa, or recent travel to other places for that matter (the Dominican Republic for Chikungunya and malaria, Saudi Arabia for MERS-CoV, etc.) so the Ebola issue has brought to the forefront that sometimes we all become complacent and need to go back to the basics.
With that in mind, we created a simple video on how to train folks in the hospital. This video is aimed at teaching residents, nurses and attendings about PPE and planning (I’d suggest turning off YouTube’s closed captioning, as it never seems to understand medical terminology). Our goal is simple. We’d like to cut through the hype and hysteria, and focus on the two things that seem to get lost in this equation: the patient and the caregiver.
We’d welcome your feedback on future topics you’d like to see us cover for the benefit of educating your hospital or staff.