CDC issues new rules and gear for handling possible Ebola patients

CDCEbola

By Yolanda Spivey

After nurses and other medical professionals have voiced their concern about being unprepared and unprotected in treating possible Ebola patients, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has issued new guidelines on how to handle possible cases.

The guidelines which focuses on personal protective equipment, or PPE is requesting that hospital and healthcare workers wear double sets of gloves, disposable hoods with full face shields and special masks, while treating Ebola patients. It also gives specific instructions on how gloves, gowns and face mask should be put on and taken off.

Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert, praised the CDC for the new step-by-step instructions that he said are “clear and comprehensive.” He stated, “These are a major step forward in protecting workers from Ebola virus infection.”

He further stated, “But these recommendations just by themselves do not make for a safer work environment. Training is critical. We need to train people how to use PPE safely and effectively.”

USA Today further states:

The CDC no longer recommends that workers wear goggles, which may not completely cover the skin. Goggles also aren’t disposable and they can fog up, making it tempting for hospital stiff to adjust them using gloved hands that are contaminated with bodily fluids.

But health workers should wear double gloves, waterproof boot covers that go up to the mid-calf, a single-use gown that extends down to mid-calf and a respirator such as an N95 respirator or a powered air-purifying respirator. Workers treating patients with vomiting or diarrhea should also wear waterproof aprons.

Hospitals should have designated areas for putting on and taking off the protective garments. Hospitals also should disinfect garments and gloves with disinfectant wipes.

The guidelines instruct hospitals to screen patients promptly, limit the number of staffers in isolation rooms and clean the environment carefully.

If a hospital decides to test a patient for Ebola, the staff should “activate the hospital preparedness plan,” isolate the patient and make sure that staff have no further contact with the patient without appropriate PPE.

The CDC guidelines are quite similar to those used by the organization Doctors Without Borders.  This international group have been fighting Ebola since March in the three African countries that are affected greatly by the disease. To date, 21 of their staff members have become infected with Ebola.

Tim Shenk, a Doctors Without Borders spokesperson stated that few of those infections were in a hospital.  Most infections occurred after local workers went home into their communities.

Every day, the CDC receives 400 calls from hospitals about possible Ebola cases with only 10% of those cases being of any real concern.

Currently, there are only four hospitals in the USA that have specialized bio-containment units designed to treat infectious disease.  They are, the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Mont.

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