CDC Honcho Suggests Nurses Wore Too Much Gear

Tom Frieden: Too many layers of protection could have upped nurses' Ebola risk
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2014 10:09 AM CDT
CDC Honcho Suggests Nurses Wore Too Much Gear
A Liberian health worker prepares his Ebola protective gear before removing the body of a man believed to have died from the Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia om Aug. 29, 2014.   (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)

Dealing With Ebola 101: Don't go out for takeout while quarantined, don't take a commercial flight if you're at risk of having the virus, and maybe cut down on the protective gear you're wearing if you're a health care worker—wait, what? The CDC head is now mentioning a new possible "protocol breach" in regard to the two nurses who contracted Ebola from Thomas Duncan, saying that health care workers may be unintentionally creating greater risk of getting infected by doubling up on protection. "These are good, dedicated people who … were trying to protect themselves better, but in fact by putting on more layers of gloves or other protective clothing, it becomes much harder to put them on, it becomes much harder to take them off," Thomas Frieden said yesterday, as per the AP. "And the risk of contamination during the process of taking these gloves off gets much higher. That's true for several different areas of the body."

Health experts are trying to figure out exactly how Nina Pham and Amber Vinson got sick. Nurses are criticizing the lack of a system to deal with Ebola at the Dallas medical center, but hospital officials insist in a statement that it followed existing CDC guidelines for workers to suit up in "appropriate personal protective equipment," including gloves, goggles, face shields, and fluid-protective gowns, notes the AP—and the hospital added that when nurses complained about neck exposure, it ordered hoods. The AP also mentions that Duncan being on a ventilator and on dialysis in a high-tech US hospital may have actually exposed the nurses to risks not found in basic African clinics. The AP also has a rundown of the instances in which Pham and Vinson cared for Duncan, per medical records. (More Ebola stories.)

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