October 15, 2014

Nurse Contracts Ebola: Who is to blame?

After reading this article on Reuters, I felt the need to weigh in on what is happening with the nurse diagnosed with the Ebola virus here in the U.S.

As a nurse, it really angers me that the hospital administration was so quick to point the finger at the nurses taking care of the patient. Everyday, the finger is pointed at the nurse as to why a medication wasn't given on time, why this order didn't get carried through, why a lab wasn't drawn, etc. There are so many contributing factors to how/why something like this happens and many other individuals involved. It is not acceptable to put the sole blame on nursing.

Some questions that come to my mind are:

  • What was staffing like for this nurse? I know that personally, when I was having a crazy, busy, day I'd use shortcuts to maximize my productivity. Of course, I never did anything that would have caused danger to my patients, but still, was she so busy that she didn't have time to decontaminate equipment/herself properly?
  • Did she have enough support from her manager, charge nurse, infection control department, clinical educator? Were they readily available if she had questions about the process of donning/doffing PPE (personal protective equipment)?
  • Did the nurse feel comfortable questioning the process if she noticed it was not being followed? Did she feel comfortable asking for help if unsure of how to manage this patient?
  • Did the hospital provide adequate, annual training on infection prevention and protective measures? How did they assess competency?
  • Did the hospital have the appropriate PPE stocked? Nurses are some of the most creative people on the planet. We can make something out of nothing. Maybe the nurses had to make do with what they did have. 
  • Did housekeeping/environmental services follow protocol for cleaning an isolation room?  Was waste properly discarded?
The nurse(s) who took care of the patient in Texas with Ebola need to be thanked and appreciated not blamed and criticized. I'm sure when word got around that there was a patient with Ebola on the floor, many staff members probably did not want to care for that patient, some probably even refused.

Also, noted in the article that the nurse has a dog that she adores and a dog of someone in Europe who had Ebola was euthanized as a precaution. So sad. As a fellow nurse and dog mom, I wish all the best to the nurse in Texas and her dog too. 


  1. I absolutely agree with you.

    I'm hoping we get more PPE on the planes. Eek.

  2. @Emily I'm hoping too! I'm traveling to Texas soon and am worried about flying and protecting myself!