It appears that a breach in safety protocol at a Dallas hospital has caused a female health-care worker to become infected with Ebola after having extensive contact with Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan. Moreover other caregivers could potentially be exposed, federal health officials said Sunday.
The hospital worker, a woman who was not identified by officials, wore protective gear while treating the Liberian patient, and she has been unable to point to how the breach might have occurred, said Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Duncan was the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with Ebola.
In the meantime some healthcare experts are bristling at the assertion by a top U.S. health official that a “protocol breach” caused a Dallas nurse to be infected with Ebola, claiming the case shows how far the nation’s hospitals are from adequately training staff to deal with the deadly virus. It’s Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who made the declaration on Sunday at a news conference.
The CDC said it would conduct a nationwide training conference call Tuesday for thousands of health care workers to ensure they would be fully prepared to treat a patient with Ebola. “The care of Ebola patients can be done safely, but it’s hard to do it safely,” Dr. Tom Frieden said. “Even a single, inadvertent innocent slip can result in contamination.”
“While this was obviously bad news, it is not news that should bring about panic,” Judge Jenkins, the county’s top elected official said Sunday, reiterating that Ebola can be spread only by coming into contact with the bodily fluids of a sick person. “There is nothing about this case that changes this premise of science.”
The worker wore a gown, gloves, mask and shield while she cared for Duncan during his second visit to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, said Dr. Daniel Varga of Texas Health Resources, which runs the hospital.
Duncan, who arrived in the U.S. from Liberia to visit his family Sept. 20, first sought medical care for fever and abdominal pain Sept. 25. He told a nurse he had traveled from Africa, but he was sent home. He returned Sept. 28 and was placed in isolation because of suspected Ebola. He died last Wednesday.