Ebola and Dangerous Health Care Working Conditions

With two nurses from Dallas, another doctor from New York, and now with another nurse being quarantined after providing services to Ebola patients in West Africa, working conditions for health care workers are under scrutiny. The life-threatening threat has spiked concern among residents, politicians, and members of the health care working community–both in training and establishing protocol and how workers should be treated to prevent future spread.

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After the death of a Liberian who was infected with Ebola, a nurse responsible for treating him became the first person to contract Ebola in the United States. Local, state, and federal officials scrambled to determine how she had contracted the disease, despite wearing protective gear. Officials were also concerned about how to prevent future cases, and to minimize the risk of treating patients.

Ebola cases involving health care workers have caused many in the industry to grow more anxious and concerned about working conditions when treating Ebola cases. According to officials, the second nurse who was diagnosed with Ebola may have “violated safety protocols.” Officials were forced to expand the list of those being monitored because this nurse was not in the first group of 48 workers being evaluated after contact with the Liberian patient.

To protect against future Ebola cases, the health care industry has been forced to overhaul safety procedures, including training and improving protective gear for workers, including nurses, doctors, and assistants. Our Durham North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys are abreast of worker safety concerns in the health care industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended improving all safety procedures and consideration of treating patients in special hospitals where facilities and workers are equipped to handle the illnesss.

The Dallas hospital, which released the Liberian man who had contracted Ebola at the center of the two new cases, is facing scrutiny about whether workers were trained. In a scathing interview, one of the nurses claimed that the hospital had no oversight and that residents should be concerned about getting treatment or contracting Ebola at the facility. The CDC has conducted nationwide training conference for thousands of healthcare workers to ensure that they are prepared to treat a patient with Ebola. But the risk is still high. Any minor errors could result in contamination and passing on of the deadly infection.

Health care workers are concerned their safety is at risk. While hospitals and other care facilities have a duty of care to ensure worker safety, the unknowns of treating Ebola can complicate safety protocols. According to officials, the nurse who contracted Ebola may have breached safety protocol when removing protective gear. Doctors have also admitted that other health care workers could have been exposed while treating the Liberian patient.

The CDC requires health care workers in the United States to wear gloves, gowns, face shields, and masks or goggles. Now seeing how workers are dressed in hazardous-material suits when treating patients in Africa, many workers are demanding the same protection. Despite growing concern about treating Ebola patients, many hospitals have only just begun to disseminate treatment information and initiate training for handling Ebola victims. Other hospital workers say they have not received any additional personal protective equipment.

Contact the Lee Law Offices in Winston-Salem by calling 800-887-1965.

More Blog Entries:
Know Your NC Workers’ Compensation Rights, March 4, 2014, Winston-Salem Work Injury Lawyer Blog

Staffing Agency Responsibilities for Temporary Workers , North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, May 15, 2014

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