Ebola: 5 Things Nurses Say The Texas Hospital Got Wrong


 
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A nurses' union is sounding the alarm about the lack of safety protocols at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas after two nurses there apparently contracted Ebola from a patient who later died of the virus.

The claims made by National Nurses United, if true, are startling.

The hospital released statements responding to many of the specific allegations.

"Many of the comments we have seen or heard in the media are only loosely based on fact, but are often out of context and sensationalized. Others are completely inaccurate," the hospital said.

Nurse: We put our lives on the line Video shows Nina Pham in hospital room Nurses union: 'No protocols' at the hospital".

Here's a look at some of the allegations:

Claim: Duncan wasn't immediately isolated

On the day that patient Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted to the hospital with possible Ebola symptoms, he was "left for several hours, not in isolation, in an area where other patients were present," union co-president Deborah Burger said.

Up to seven other patients were present in that area, the nurses said, according to the union.

A nursing supervisor faced resistance from hospital authorities when the supervisor demanded that Duncan be moved to an isolation unit, the nurses said, according to the union.

What the hospital said

When Duncan returned to the emergency department, he was moved directly to a private room and placed in isolation, according to the hospital.

Claim: The nurses' protective gear left their necks exposed

After expressing concerns that their necks were exposed even as they wore protective gear, the nurses were told to wrap their necks with medical tape, the union says.

2nd health care worker tests positive for Ebola at Dallas hospital

"They were told to use medical tape and had to use four to five pieces of medical tape wound around their neck. The nurses have expressed a lot of concern about how difficult it is to remove the tape from their neck," Burger said.

What the hospital said

When Duncan returned to the emergency department, he was moved directly to a private room and placed in isolation, according to the hospital.

Claim: The nurses' protective gear left their necks exposed

After expressing concerns that their necks were exposed even as they wore protective gear, the nurses were told to wrap their necks with medical tape, the union says.

2nd health care worker tests positive for Ebola at Dallas hospital

"They were told to use medical tape and had to use four to five pieces of medical tape wound around their neck. The nurses have expressed a lot of concern about how difficult it is to remove the tape from their neck," Burger said.

What the hospital said

Whistle-blower nurse: 'I feel lied to' 'No risk' for passengers near 2nd nurse Understanding Ebola protocols.

Nurses who interacted with Duncan wore personal protective equipment consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the hospital said.

"When the CDC issued updates, as they did with leg covers, we followed their guidelines," it said.

"When the CDC recommended that nurses wear isolation suits, the nurses raised questions and concerns about the fact that the skin on their neck was exposed. The CDC recommended that they pinch and tape the necks of the gown. Because our nurses continued to be concerned, particularly about removing the tape, we ordered hoods," the hospital said.

Claim: At one point, hazardous waste piled up

"There was no one to pick up hazardous waste as it piled to the ceiling," Burger said. "They did not have access to proper supplies."

What the hospital said

The hospital said it went "above and beyond the CDC recommendations."

"Waste was well-contained in accordance with standards, and it was located in safe and containable locations," it said.

Claim: Nurses got no 'hands-on' training

"There was no mandate for nurses to attend training," Burger said, though they did receive an email about a hospital seminar on Ebola.

"This was treated like hundreds of other seminars that were routinely offered to staff," she said.

Claim: The nurses 'feel unsupported'

So, why did the group of nurses -- the union wouldn't say how many -- contact the nursing union, which they don't belong to?

According to National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro, the nurses were upset after authorities appeared to blame nurse Nina Pham, who has contracted Ebola, for not following protocols.

"This nurse was being blamed for not following protocols that did not exist. ... The nurses in that hospital were very angry, and they decided to contact us," DeMoro said.

And they're worried conditions at the hospital "may lead to infection of other nurses and patients," Burger said.

The union did not identify the nurses they spoke to, in order to protect them from possible retaliation.

The hospital, meanwhile, criticized what it sees as interference from a third party.

"Third parties who don't know our hospital, our employees and who were not present when the events occurred are seeking to exploit a national crisis by inserting themselves into an already challenging situation.

"Based on our strong track record of having excellent relationships with our employees, we do not believe it is necessary or helpful for outside parties to intervene in this relationship," the hospital said.

Hospital spokesman Wendell Watson said the hospital takes "compliance very seriously."

"We have numerous measures in place to provide a safe working environment, including mandatory annual training and a 24-7 hot line and other mechanisms that allow for anonymous reporting," Watson said.


 
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