Joint Commission highlights standards that apply to Ebola preparedness

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

January 7, 2015

The days and weeks following September 30, when the CDC announced the first laboratory-confirmed case of Ebola in the U.S., saw a flood of public health announcements and news headlines, putting hospitals across the country on high alert for patients with the symptoms and travel history associated with Ebola. After being sent home from the ED at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on September 26 with a prescription for antibiotics, Thomas Eric Duncan returned two days later suffering from abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Duncan’s symptoms gradually worsened, and he died on the morning of October 8.

The Ebola confirmation and Duncan’s subsequent death produced a wealth of information from the CDC and other national infectious disease societies. Soon, news stories detailed the missteps surrounding Duncan’s diagnosis and the PPE and training provided to workers that cared for him. The CDC quickly updated its previous Ebola guidelines with new risk levels, stricter actions for suspected Ebola patients, and specific recommendations for monitoring healthcare workers that have cared for an Ebola patient. Passengers flying from Ebola-affected countries were required to land in one of five designated cities, and across the country, state and local public health officials began designating specific hospitals to treat Ebola patients.

Since then, more cases of Ebola have been diagnosed in the U.S. The CDC confirmed that two healthcare workers who cared for Duncan tested positive for Ebola, but both have recovered. In New York City, a third case was identified when a physician with Doctors Without Borders returned home from Guinea; he was diagnosed with Ebola the same day he went into isolation at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan. On November 17, a physician who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone died from the virus in a Nebraska hospital. Martin Salia was in critical condition by the time he was flown from Sierra Leone to Nebraska Medical Center.

These cases have forced hospitals to ensure they have a plan in place to manage potential Ebola patients.

This is an excerpt from an article in Patient Safety Monitor Journal.

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