The CDC recently announced stricter guidelines on the use of personal protective equipment for United States healthcare workers providing healthcare services to patients with Ebola (“Guidelines”). According to the CDC, the Guidelines have three core principles:
All healthcare workers undergo rigorous training and are practiced and competent with personal protective equipment, including putting it on and taking it off in a systemic manner
No skin exposure when personal protective equipment is worn
All workers are supervised by a trained monitor who watches each worker putting personal protective equipment on and taking it off.
The CDC also explained that the workers at Emory University Hospital, Nebraska Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center who followed these core principals to treat Ebola patients did not contract the illness. The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania will also be applying these core principles as well. On October 17, 2014, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania announced it has agreed to receive and treat American medical workers who contracted the illness while providing care in Africa.
The CDC also recently announced that six states, including Pennsylvania, are already planning and implementing the CDC’s new “active post-arrival monitoring” program that beginning October 27 will monitor travelers who arrive in the United States from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea. The CDC explained that “active post-arrival monitoring means that travelers without febrile illness or symptoms consistent with Ebola will be followed up daily by state and local health departments for 21 days from the date of their departure from West Africa.” Pennsylvania and the other five states account for approximately 70% of incoming travelers from West Africa.
In the current climate, implementation of, and compliance with, the Guidelines will be critical to ensure hospitals are prepared to protect the health of their personnel and patients in the event an individual with Ebola symptoms presents for treatment.