CDC Releases New Infection Control Guidelines
The new guidelines will calm nervous healthcare workers, but extra guidance is needed to calm public Ebola hysteria.
The chances of an Ebola case presenting at your physician office is slim to none. But it’s always good to be prepared for the unexpected. The recent death of Ebola victim Thomas Duncun, and the two subsequently infected nurses who treated Duncun at Texas Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, has led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to devise more stringent guidelines for personal protective equipment (PPE) used by U.S. healthcare workers.
The CDC recommends three principles for PPE:
- All healthcare workers undergo rigorous training and are practiced and competent with PPE, including taking it on and off in a systemic manner;
- No skin exposure when PPE is worn; and
- All workers are supervised by a trained monitor who watches each worker taking PPE on and off.
Additionally, CDC warns healthcare workers the PPE is only one aspect of infection control. Healthcare settings should also:
- Conduct prompt screening and triage of potential patients;
- Designate site managers to ensure proper implementation of precautions;
- Limit personnel in isolation rooms; and
- Conduct effective environmental cleaning.
Part of initial screening, the CDC says, should include taking a detailed travel and exposure history with patients who exhibit fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and/or unexplained hemorrhage.
Keep Calm and Care On
What the CDC doesn’t provide guidance for is how to control hysteria in the community. This is cold and flu season, and most of the symptoms of Ebola are similar to a bout of flu. Physician offices are likely to see a lot of worried folks in the coming months. A staff well educated on Ebola and infectious disease protocol will stem the tide of fear.