Do The CDC’s Ebola Precautions For U.S. Hospitals Go Far Enough?

Steven Ross Johnson | Modern Healthcare | August 21, 2014

U.S. hospitals have gone on alert since two American healthcare workers were brought to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta this month after being infected with the Ebola virus while treating Ebola patients in West Africa.  The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it's likely that an Ebola-infected traveler from West Africa will turn up in a U.S. emergency department, and the CDC has issued guidelines for hospitals on identifying and treating Ebola patients. But those recommendations, which do not include the head-to-toe “moon suits” used in field hospitals in West Africa and at Emory, have drawn widespread criticism for not going far enough in protecting U.S. healthcare workers from infection.

“There is a lot of angst and consternation among healthcare workers when they look at full-body suits and full facial protection, leggings and everything else they see in Africa and they wonder, 'Why are we not having the same recommendations for the same level of protection for ourselves?' ” said Wava Truscott, director of medical services and clinical education for Kimberly-Clark Health Care, a Dallas-based supplier of infection prevention products.

This week, a patient at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center was being tested for possible Ebola infection. A 30-year-old female patient at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque also was being tested for the virus after returning recently from Sierra Leone.  Over the past month, the CDC said it has received 68 calls regarding possible cases of Ebola, with calls coming from hospitals in 29 states. Of those 68 cases, 59 were deemed to be false alarms. The agency conducted tests in the other nine cases, with seven testing negative and results pending for the remaining two...