Ebola hospital points fingers

 

The Dallas hospital at the center of the Ebola storm is criticizing federal officials, arguing workers followed established guidelines for treating patients.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital also lashed out at the media, arguing news reports about the hospital have been “completely inaccurate” and “sensationalized.”

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And it criticized “third-party groups,” such as the National Nurses United union for saying the hospital didn’t do enough to protect its workers.

The union has accused the hospital of serious missteps in Thomas Eric Duncan's care, claiming to speak on behalf of several Dallas nurses who chose to remain anonymous.

“Third parties who don’t know our hospital, our employees and who were not present when the events occurred are seeking to exploit a national crisis by inserting themselves into an already challenging situation,” the hospital said in a statement.

“We do not believe it is necessary or helpful for outside parties to intervene in this relationship.”

The hospital said more than 100 workers who treated Ebola patients have insisted they complied with federal guidelines, raising questions about how two workers contracted the disease.

After interviewing every staff member who might have come into contact with the Ebola virus, officials said “all caregivers reported being consistently compliant” with guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But many of the Dallas workers said they found the guidelines difficult to follow, which the hospital blamed on the CDC.

“The CDC guidelines changed frequently, and those changes were frustrating to [the hospital workers] and to management,” the statement released late Thursday reads. “Nonetheless, they endeavored to remain compliant with what was communicated as the most recent and appropriate guideline.”

The hospital also said that some nurses were skeptical whether the CDC standards would keep them safe.

“When CDC recommended that nurses wear isolation suits, the nurses raised questions and concerns about the fact that the skin on their neck was exposed,” the statement reads. One nurse told the “Today Show” on Thursday that some of her colleagues taped their necks to cover the exposed areas.

CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden had previously said that any hospital with an intensive care unit could safely treat an Ebola-infected patient. After the first nurse was diagnosed, Frieden said there had been a “breach in protocol,” though he has since backed away from that assertion, pointing to the ongoing investigation. 

Because the nurses were not actively being monitored by health officials, one had been allowed to board a commercial flight earlier this week, potentially spreading the disease where she had stayed in Cleveland.

After reports first surfaced that the nurse had flown across the country, the hospital asked its affected employees “to be the good citizens” and avoid public transportation. Dallas county officials said Thursday that 75 potentially exposed healthcare workers would be asked to sign a "binding legal document" that they would avoid public contact and be monitored twice daily for symptoms.

The hospital has repeatedly defended its treatment of the country’s first Ebola patient. After Duncan’s death last week, however, the hospital acknowledged that there had been flaws in his care, and a hospital executive called Duncan’s fiancee this week to apologize.  

The two other nurses who were diagnosed at the Dallas hospital have both been moved to other U.S. facilities more specialized in Ebola care.

— This post was updated at 1:24 p.m.