The Dallas hospital that treated Texas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan didn't have appropriate protective gear and reportedly left him in a room with other patients for "several hours" before ultimately putting him in isolation, exposing at least 76 people.
Yesterday, Centers for Disease Control Director Thomas Frieden acknowledged that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital workers weren't provided full-body biohazard suits until three days after Duncan was admitted (they now reportedly have 12).
According to National Nurses United—speaking on behalf of the Dallas nurses—the hospital had no protocols in place to handle the virus. Nurses involved in treating Duncan say he was left in a public area and a nurse supervisor "faced resistance from other hospital authorities," when she requested he be placed in isolation.
They described a hospital with no clear guidelines in place for handling Ebola patients, where Duncan's lab specimens were sent through the usual hospital tube system "without being specifically sealed and hand-delivered. The result is that the entire tube system, which all the lab systems are sent, was potentially contaminated," they said.
"There was no advanced preparedness on what to do with the patient. There was no protocol; there was no system. The nurses were asked to call the infectious disease department" if they had questions, they said.
The nurses said they were essentially left to figure things out for themselves as they dealt with "copious amounts" of body fluids from Duncan while wearing gloves with no wrist tapes, gowns that did not cover their necks, and no surgical booties.
"I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the patient, the first patient, was diagnosed," Frieden said. "That might have prevented this infection. But we will do that from today onward with any case, anywhere in the U.S."
In happier news, however, the Washington Post reports that the 48 people exposed to Duncan before he was hospitalized have gone more than two weeks without showing symptoms and are "close to being in the clear."
[image via AP]