(HealthDay News) — Federal and local health officials said Monday that they were re-examining infection-control efforts at the Dallas hospital where a nurse contracted Ebola while caring for America’s first diagnosed victim of the deadly disease.
During a late-morning news briefing, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas Frieden, MD, reiterated that the CDC believes that its Ebola infection-control procedures are effective in preventing exposure to the virus. But public health officials are examining the steps taken at Texas Health Presbyterian to see if the guidelines can be improved. Those steps, Frieden said, include: (1) reviewing how hospital staff handle and apply protective gear, and retraining workers how to do it safely; (2) requiring a “buddy system,” in which someone donning protective equipment has a colleague watching to make sure it’s done right; (3) weighing more liberal use of an antiviral agent that now is sprayed over the gloves of workers as they leave the isolation ward; and (4) considering different types of protective equipment to figure out which are easiest to put on and take off.
Officials are particularly focusing on the risks that health care workers face when coming out of an isolation ward wearing potentially contaminated protective gear. “One thing we’ve found is that sometimes health care workers may think more is better, so they may put on additional sets of gloves or additional coverings,” Frieden said. “That may actually end up paradoxically making things less, rather than more, safe because it is so difficult to remove those layers.”
In the days to come, the CDC will be “doubling down” on education and training in infection control and diagnosis of Ebola in all U.S. hospitals. “It’s very important that every hospital be prepared to diagnose someone with Ebola,” Frieden said, noting that anyone who has a fever or other symptoms should be grilled about their travel history, and isolated if they’ve been to Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone within the past three weeks.