National Nurses United Survey Reveals Fatal Flaw In U.S. Preparedness For Ebola Virus

The National Nurses United union (NNU) gave a recent survey that revealed some disturbing details about U.S. hospital readiness for the Ebola virus.

According to most of the 1,900 participants, hospitals are doing a terrible job of providing education regarding Ebola treatment, or what the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would call “proper protocols,” which were violated in Dallas, resulting in the infection of at least one health care worker so far.

The Dallas Morning News reports that 85 percent said education had not been provided (or 1,615 respondents), with NNU co-president Deborah Burger stating that companies who remove and expose materials contaminated with the Ebola virus are in a better position than hospital personnel.

“As has been shown in Dallas, they are not prepared,” Burger said at a press conference in Oakland, California. “There is a huge vacuum in both credibility and implementation… We’re still not clear on why our hospitals are dragging their feet. We think there may be a bit of denial involved in this.”

Some have charged that the denial also comes from the CDC itself, which has routinely made predictions downplaying Ebola, only to see situations grow worse than initially reported.

For instance, the CDC had shown confidence in dealing with the spread and keeping it contained. Then, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas sent home Liberian immigrant Thomas Eric Duncan when he came in exhibiting Ebola symptoms.

Rather than noting Duncan’s symptoms and travel history and placing him in isolation, he was sent home. He would return to the hospital three days later. At this point, the diagnosis was made, but by then it was too late.

CDC also initially said that 12 people were “at risk” due to the oversight. That number grew to 50, then 80, then 100. On Sunday, a healthcare worker was revealed to be infected.

Since Ebola can reportedly take two to 21 days to show symptoms, more could be diagnosed in the next few days.

In a press release posted on the NNU website, the organization called for “the highest standards for protective equipment, including Hazmat suits and training.

Other findings from the survey include the following.

“76 percent still say their hospital has not communicated to them any policy regarding potential admission of patients infected by Ebola… 37 percent say their hospital has insufficient current supplies of eye protection (face shields or side shields with goggles) for daily use on their unit; 36 percent say there are insufficient supplies of fluid resistant/impermeable gowns in their hospital… 39 percent say their hospital does not have plans to equip isolation rooms with plastic covered mattresses and pillows and discard all linens after use; only 8 percent said they were aware their hospital does have such a plan in place.”

Do you think the National Nurses United union has revealed a fatal flaw in U.S. preparedness for the Ebola virus?