Why Ebola Preparedness Is So Haphazard

Ebola preparedness

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Ebola news scrolls by on our screens fast and furious.  A suspect case here, a hospital failing there, airborne rumors, social chatter with scary and conflicting information.  There seems to be precious little information coming out of official government channels

Twenty-six Ebola outbreaks have occurred since 1976.  Researchers and medical teams documenting information about containment, contact lists, and patient care.  This outbreak, the first to touch an urban area, has screamed out of control debilitating nations as the death count relentlessly mounts.    The World Health Organization predicts up to 10,000 cases a week and in a best case scenario two months before the virus is back under control.

Extensive information about containment exists.  Ebola protocols have been around for decades and have improved as we learn from each outbreak.  Why then are so many mistakes happening now that Ebola has reached the United States?

Ebola Mistakes

Many within the community spoke about the Keystone Cops calamity that seems to be out there.  A list of mishaps include:

  • Releasing the first patient for two days into the community before transporting him by ambulance for hospitalization.
  • Hospital staff wearing light protection in the early days of Duncan’s treatment; now two nurses have contracted Ebola, and the contact list reaches 76 people.
  • A nurse with a fever and Ebola patient contact calls the CDC about her low-grade fever and is cleared to fly; now 132 passengers and airline staff are on another watch list.
  • Dr. Nancy Snyderman, after being potentially exposed to Ebola when her cameraman contracted the disease, “elopes” on voluntary quarantine for Chinese food.  Her “sorry, not sorry” response was she was asymptomatic and therefore not a threat.

Our most recent Ebola posts here.

We are also hearing from the physicians on the front-lines that they have received little, if any training.

One ER physician wrote, “As an ED physician, I have received no Ebola preparedness training. Neither has any other ED doctor or any of our ED nursing staff. We have NO IDEA if we have any personal protective gear or any protocol in place. But I did read in our local paper that our hospital is telling the media we are prepared for Ebola. In fact, they are holding a press conference today to explain it to the public! What a farce.”

A second physician wrote, “As an ED physician at a county hospital, I have still had ZERO training from my hospital on how to screen or isolate a potential Ebola patient. We have had no drills. No meetings. We have no isolation protocols, no plan. We are not prepared. No one believes it will come here, or infect enough people to be a real threat to the U.S. The CDC has told them not to worry and that it is hard to get sick from Ebola. So they don’t worry.”

Medical Personnel Search Online for Answers

Our infographic looks at the disconnect between medical teams and the flow of information.  Physicians, are searching for best practices and are often turning to online sources.  As of today, approximately 60 percent of all conversations in the Sermo community are focused on Ebola.  Physicians are sharing stories about preparedness, patient treatment options, the possible Ebola vaccine and travel bans.

Doctors look to multiple channels for Ebola information.  Fifty-four percent of doctors say they are checking with the CDC regularly, and 52 percent they are getting clinical information from their peers in Sermo.  If you’re an M.D. or D.O. you can join the community to learn more about Ebola.

What do you think about Ebola preparedness in the United States?  Do you support strict measures such as a travel ban from hot zones?  Where do you get clinical information about Ebola?

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