Tags: Ebola Outbreak | nurse | union | dallas | hospital

Nurses Union Head: 'No Protocols' at Dallas Hospital

By    |   Tuesday, 14 October 2014 11:18 PM

No protocols were in place at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas as it treated the first U.S. Ebola patient, top officials of a nurses union said on Tuesday.

"The protocols that should have been in place in Dallas were not in place — and those protocols are not in place anywhere in the United States, as far as we can tell," RoseAnn DeMoro, the executive director of National Nurses United, told CNN. "We're deeply alarmed."

"There were no protocols," union co-president Deborah Burger told CNN. "The guidelines were constantly changing."

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurse Nina Pham became infected with Ebola after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, who contracted the disease in Liberia and died from it last week.

"I'm doing well and want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers," Pham, 26, said in a statement Tuesday released by the hospital.

Pham was one of as many as 70 staff members who cared for Duncan, according to medical records. She wore protective gear that included gowns, gloves, masks, and face shields while caring for Duncan, but she still became infected. Officials blamed it on a breach of protocol.

But DeMoro and Burger told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta that the hospital lacked protocols on how to treat people with the deadly disease. They said they obtained the information from nurses at the hospital — declining to identify them to protect the nurses from possible retaliation.

The nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian are not unionized, officials said.

Among some of the more serious allegations made by the union were that Duncan was not immediately isolated when he was admitted to the hospital with Ebola symptoms and that the protective gear they initially wore left their necks exposed.

When Duncan was admitted, he was "left for several hours, not in isolation, in an area where other patients were present," Burger told CNN.

As many as seven other patients were in that area, the nurses told the union.

When a nursing supervisor demanded that Duncan be moved to an isolation unit, she faced resistance from hospital officials, the nurses told the union.

In addition, when the nurses treating Duncan complained that their necks had not been covered by the gear, they were told to wrap their necks with medical tape, Burger told CNN.

"They were told to use medical tape and had to use four to five pieces of medical tape wound around their neck," she said. "The nurses have expressed a lot of concern about how difficult it is to remove the tape from their neck."

Hazardous waste also piled up while Duncan was being treated, Burger said, and nurses got no "hands-on training" on how to use the protective gear.

"There was no one to pick up hazardous waste as it piled to the ceiling," Burger told CNN. "They did not have access to proper supplies."

In addition, "There was no mandate for nurses to attend training," Burger added.

Hospital officials did send nursing staff an email about a seminar on Ebola, however.

"This was treated like hundreds of other seminars that were routinely offered to staff," Burger said.

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No protocols were in place at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas as it treated the first U.S. Ebola patient, top officials of a nurses union said on Tuesday.
nurse, union, dallas, hospital
Tuesday, 14 October 2014 11:18 PM
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