Nurses union: No Ebola preparation in Dallas

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 be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. 
{mosads}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 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.”

{mosads}”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.

“Patient and employee safety is our greatest priority, and we take compliance very seriously,” the hospital said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.

“We have numerous measures in place to provide a safe working environment, including mandatory annual training and a 24-7 hotline and other mechanisms that allow for anonymous reporting. Our nursing staff is committed to providing quality, compassionate care, as we have always known, and as the world has seen firsthand in recent days. We will continue to review and respond to any concerns raised by our nurses and all employees.”

A total of 75 other healthcare workers are being monitored for potential exposure to Ebola.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden said he regretted not sending an emergency team to the hospital to monitor care of the first patient.

“I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the first patient was diagnosed. That might have prevented this,” Frieden said Tuesday at a press conference. “But we will do that from this day onward with any case anywhere in the U.S.”


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