Are Emergency Departments Prepared to Handle Ebola?
October 24, 2014•9 min
Emergency departments are the nation's front line for all medical emergencies, including the current Ebola situation in the United States.Emergency departments are the nation's front line for all medical emergencies, including the current Ebola situation in the United States. Back when Ebola was first reported in March, there was little concern that the virus could spread past African borders.Emergency rooms throughout America were given several precautions anyway just in case Ebola was to arrive. Throughout the last few months, several infected patients have landed on U.S. soil to seek medical treatment.Patients who haven't shown any symptoms and are living their everyday life often are criticized later when all of a sudden their symptoms appear and need to be taken to a hospital. Why weren't they more careful? Why didn't they just stay home?Just like the flu symptoms, Ebola symptoms come out of nowhere and hit you like a bus. One day you're completely fine and then you develop fever, chills, aches and pains. Patients who have been carrying out everyday normal tasks may have come in contact with you doesn't necessarily mean you will develop Ebola.Ebola is not airborne, but what about when someone sneezes near you. Should you be worried?Usually if you sneeze or cough, droplets can land anywhere up to four feet. However, until you're so sick that the virus in your body has drastically multiplied to the point where you're bleeding (and unable to actually get up and walk around), you do not have to worry about catching Ebola through a sneeze.Are ER's really prepared to handle this?At a Dallas hospital, nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson who took care of Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan before his passing due to Ebola were the first two people known to develop the virus in the U.S. This lead many to believe ER's weren't prepared, ER's couldn't contain the virus and further precautions needed to be enforced.Further precautions are taking place, by training medical staff proper ways to put on and take off protective Hazmat gear.What else do you need to know about how ER's are prepared to handle Ebola?Rade B. Vukmir, MD and David C. Pigott, MD discuss if ER's are prepared enough and the precautions ER's around the country are practicing.