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Pauline Cafferkey, Ebola-Infected Nurse, Cleared of Putting Patients at Risk

Image: Pauline Cafferkey, Ebola-Infected Nurse, Cleared of Putting Patients at Risk

Nurse Pauline Cafferkey, who survived Ebola, stands outside the Nursing and Midwifery Council after being cleared of misconduct charges on Sept. 14, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 15 Sep 2016 08:29 AM

Pauline Cafferkey, an Ebola-infected nurse from the United Kingdom who contracted the deadly virus in 2014, was cleared of putting patients at risk by the country's Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Cafferkey, 40, was accused of concealing a high temperature after returning from Sierra Leone after volunteering in west Africa, The Guardian reported. The nurse nearly died twice after contracting the virus, the newspaper said.

The NMC initially accused Cafferkey of allowing an incorrect temperature to be recorded at Heathrow Airport's Public Health England's screening facility. The organization charged that the nurse left the screening area without reporting it to a staff member once realizing she was running a temperature.

An elevated temperature is considered one of the early signs of the Ebola virus infection.

The NMC's conduct and competence panel dismissed the charges against Cafferkey after hearing she had been impaired by the illness, and another charge of dishonesty was withdrawn, according to the BBC News.

Cafferkey, from Scotland, became the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United Kingdom, spending several weeks in London's Royal Free Hospital in January 2015, the BBC News noted.

"As the panel heard, when Pauline and her fellow volunteers arrived at Heathrow, they were faced with chaotic scenes," said Joyce Cullen, the nurse's legal representative after the hearing, according to The Guardian.

"Public Health England (was) unprepared for the volume of people returning from areas affected by Ebola. There were also serious failures of communication amongst the PHE staff. It is perhaps ironic that given the criticisms made of PHE's processes, it was their complaint that led to the NMC investigation and these proceedings being initiated against Pauline. No doubt lessons have been learned," Cullen continued, adding that Cafferkey would have never put others at risk.

Cafferkey received support from Scotland first minister Nicola Sturgeon on social media.

Hugh Pennington, a top United Kingdom bacteriologist, questioned why Cafferkey was accused of the charges, according to the Daily Telegraph.

"They didn't need to have this kind of exhibition, the poor woman has been through a hard enough time as it is," Pennington told the Daily Telegraph. "They could have done a behind the scenes investigation. Everything that has been said was known at the time."

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Pauline Cafferkey, an Ebola-infected nurse from the United Kingdom who contracted the deadly virus in 2014, was cleared of putting patients at risk by the country's Nursing and Midwifery Council.
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Thursday, 15 Sep 2016 08:29 AM
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