Nurses Must Protect Themselves from Ebola

Nurses Must Protect Themselves from Ebola

Any nurse concerned about being ill-prepared to care for Ebola patients should be able to refuse the assignment. So says the leader of the American Nurses Association [ANA].

“We strongly encourage nurses to speak up if they believe there is inadequate planning, education or treatment related to providing care to these or any patients, and seek to resolve any conflicts of responsibility swiftly,” said ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN.

“Nurses should have the right to refuse an assignment if they do not feel adequately prepared or do not have the necessary equipment to care for Ebola patients,” Cipriano said in a news release.

At Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where Thomas Eric Duncan — the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. — died last week, nurses publicly stated that nurses treating him lacked protective gear and that protocols constantly changed. Two of those nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Joy Vinson, were diagnosed with Ebola. Texas Health Presbyterian officials defended its Ebola procedures, saying it followed CDC protocols, USA Today reported. 

Emory’s special isolation unit – one of five on the nation – has successfully treated three cases of Ebola without any medical professionals becoming infected. But even there, to allay fears, volunteers were sought and staff were allowed to decline the assignments, according to Forbes.

Around the world, about 400 health care staff have Ebola, and more than 230 have died, according to CNN.

Stopping Ebola in its tracks will require a global response to the crisis in West Arica and a collaborative approach involving interprofessional, state and federal organizations in this nation, said Cipriano.

Robin Farmer is a freelance content specialist with a focus on health, business and education. Visit her at