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WASHINGTON –- A national nurses union said during a hastily-scheduled press conference Tuesday evening that hospitals are dropping the ball on safety for nurses caring for Ebola patients.RoseAnn DeMoro, director of National Nurses United, which has been critical of hospitals' response to the Ebola crisis, said safety protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not been followed by the Dallas hospital where Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, died last week.
“Our nurses are not protected, they’re not prepared to handle Ebola or any other pandemics,” DeMoro said. “The protocols that should have been in place in Dallas were not in place and are not in place anywhere in the United States, as far as we can tell.”
The CDC has said it would do more hands-on training with health care workers after officials confirmed over the weekend that Nina Pham, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, contracted Ebola after caring for Duncan.
Deborah Burger, co-director of the nurses union, read an account of hospital conditions she said had been given from nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian. The statement painted a portrait of carelessness, with nurses who interacted with Duncan wearing flimsy gowns and protective gear that left parts of their bodies exposed.
"Nurses had to interact with Mr. Duncan with whatever protective equipment was available at the time when he had copious amounts of diarrhea and vomiting, which produces a lot of contagious fluid," Burger said.
Transporting Specimens within the Hospital / Institution
In compliance with 29 CFR 1910.1030, specimens should be placed in a durable, leak-proof secondary container for transport within a facility. To reduce the risk of breakage or leaks, do not use any pneumatic tube system for transporting suspected EVD specimens.
Here are some of the other allegations the nurses made, according to the union:
-- On the day that Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted to the hospital, he was "left for several hours, not in isolation, in an area where other patients were present." 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.
-- 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. "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.
-- "Nurses have substantial concern that these conditions may lead to infection of other nurses and patients," Burger said.
-- At one point during Duncan's care, "there was no one to pick up hazardous waste as it piled to the ceiling."
-- "In the end the nurses strongly feel unsupported, unprepared, lied to and deserted," Burger said.