"Protocol breaches" are inevitable when nurses aren't properly trained on working with patients infected with Ebola and hospital supplies are lacking.
"Stop blaming nurses. Stop Ebola."
Those powerful words appeared on banner during a National Nurses United press conference over the weekend. As the Ebola crisis reaches a fever pitch here in the United States in the wake of the nation's first diagnosis and ultimately first death from the virus, it's becoming clear that we aren't prepared at the hospital level to deal with the disease.
As usual, nurses have taken the brunt of both the blame and the consequences.
First, a nurse was involved in the mishandling of Thomas Eric Duncan's initial ED visit when he was sent home, despite having been told of his symptoms and that he just traveled from West Africa. Commentators (including me) questioned that judgment: Why didn't the nurse tell a doctor in person?
Certainly he or she should have known that simply noting such information in the EHR wasn't sufficient.
And now, a nurse who cared for Duncan has tested positive for Ebola, despite wearing full protective gear. Although the CDC over the weekend blamed the nurse's infection on a "breach in protocol," director Tom Frieden apologized Monday for sounding like he was putting the blame on a single nurse or hospital.
Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.