Major medical groups endorse Ebola guidelines

Three of the largest U.S. medical organizations threw their weight behind new federal guidelines that reject mass quarantines for healthcare workers returning from Ebola-ravaged countries.

In a joint statement, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association said the guidance strikes the right balance between protecting public health and ensuring healthcare workers are not "unduly" burdened.

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"This guidance is based on the best available scientific evidence and provides essential information to public health authorities, state governments, hospitals, clinicians and other health care workers about the appropriate monitoring of individuals who may have been exposed or have had direct contact with a symptomatic person diagnosed with Ebola," the groups said Tuesday. 

"We will work with our members to understand and adhere to these guidelines," the statement added.

The statement marks a rare instance of joint public comment from the three groups, which have largely eschewed the public spotlight during the Ebola debate compared with other health organizations.

Federal guidelines were issued Monday afternoon as a rebuke to states like New York, New Jersey and Illinois, which are requiring returning healthcare workers to remain isolated for Ebola's 21-day incubation period. 

The Obama administration and a range of public health groups have denounced the policies as harmful to the Ebola response effort in West Africa. If volunteer medics are required to undergo an additional three weeks of quarantine, they will be less likely to assist in the relief effort in the first place, detractors argue.

President Obama sought to bolster this argument with remarks Tuesday saying that Ebola healthcare workers are "doing God's work."

"I want to make sure every policy we put into place is supportive of their efforts," Obama said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends voluntary, at-home isolation and symptom monitoring for people who have treated Ebola patients.

The guidelines urged state and local health officials to tailor restrictions to each returning individual based on their circumstances.

—This story was updated at 6:53 p.m.